Ever have something that started out great go sour on you?
My read through the Bible discussion group was a classic example of this. From the start it was obvious the Lord was at work. When two sisters joined while we were in Leviticus and then ended up not only hanging in there but becoming Christians I was blown away! Even as we dove into the minor prophets the discussions were incredible and life change was occurring all over the place. I thought, “If God is doing this much in the Old Testament, I can’t wait to see what He’ll do as we discuss the New!”
But as we dove into the gospels everything changed. “I don’t get it!” I shared with a friend, “We aren’t having the great discussions we use to have. People seem to have stopped making application to their lives. I don’t even know if doing this is benefitting anyone anymore!”
After inquiring further about what we did when we got together, my friend stated, “You need to stop answering questions.”
I was shocked! But you know he was right! When I followed his advice, great discussions resumed, people started making life applications again, and I learned soon as an answer is given discussion is killed. What’s worse, it shifts the focus of the group from going to the Scriptures seeking to hear what the Lord wants to say to them, to reading with a questioning mindset.
You see, at that time I didn’t know as much about the Old Testament so as we read through that we were all on fairly equal footing – we just accepted there were some things we weren’t going to get this go round, so we read for what we could understand, listening to hear whatever the Lord wanted to tell us.
But when we came to the New Testament, I’d done a bunch more study on this and often knew the answers to their questions. And the more I answered, the more they started focusing on what they didn’t understand when they read, rather than on what they did understand and what God wanted to say to them through it!
So when they showed up for our “discussion group” – well at that point it became more of a “let’s go hear how Debbie will answer this” group. Without me intending, the focus shifted from God to me.
You see, the Bible is the Living Word. It’s the only book you ever read with the author right there with you any place, any time you sit down to read it! And I don’t care if you study it full time every single day of your life, there is always more to learn! Questions can be good if they get you to slow down and spend more time observing the passage, especially if they get you interacting with the author! But if all you do when you read is come up with a bunch of questions which you ask another person to answer you miss out on the best part – relating with the author and having your life change as a result.
Whether we are leading a Bible study or meeting one on one with someone there is a vital need to fight dependence – I don’t want those I’m meeting with to become dependent on me. Instead my job is to help them grow in depending on God!
To do this I have to remember I am a facilitator, not their savior. I know that may sound like a no brainer, but I’m sad to say it can be so easy to slip into seeking to be the latter.
Trust me, it’s a huge ego boost when people are hanging on your every word, as well as seeing lives change as a result of doing what you suggest. And it sure can be fun to show off what you know – especially when it impresses people!
But imagine if you were in Kindergarten and the teacher answered every question?! You could ace every test … and never learn a thing!
Now the purpose here isn’t to encourage you to never answer a question! But it certainly can be wise when investing in others, to ask, “Is our time together spurring them to depend more on the Lord or on me?” Being aware of the danger is half the battle! The rest is dying to ego! This is a battle and often one that rages subconsciously.
But love seeks what’s best for the other person! Is it ever worth it when we fight against people depending on us, and fight instead for them to depend on the Lord! Even if it requires sometimes leaving questions unanswered…