Cultivating a Culture of Questions

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“Daddy, when I was in mommy’s belly could I see God since God lives in mommy’s heart?”

“Daddy, when we go to heaven are we older or younger?”

“Do those firefighters love God?”

“Does a fish have a penis?” 

“When I get married will my husband carry me into our house?” 

“How is this tree growing through the concrete?” 

“How do you tell the twins apart?”

“Are there some rapids in the Grand Canyon that are a thousand feet deep?”

“When you were little and you felt sad did you tell your mommy and daddy?”

These were just a few of the questions that my kids (Abigail 5, Joshua 8) asked me over the past two days during the regular course of life.

Questions come naturally for most kids, for a while. And then slowly, like the tide, the questions ebb and become fewer and fewer.  The false self takes root and we operate under some pressure to have life figured out. We ask fewer questions and even begin to pride ourselves in having answers and being self-sufficient.

I can remember the end of the innocence for me late in elementary school.  As I spent more and more time with older boys that had all the “answers” my questions went silent and internal.  As my world moved internal I learned from my peers that questions were weakness and risky.  Answers were the goal.

playground-bullying

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the heart of the decade of becoming good soil is the posture of asking questions.

Henri Nouwen brilliantly reminds us that

“Answers before questions do damage to the soul.”

Remember that Jesus is always after the deepest us. So often answers are a shortcut that miss the gold entirely, that Jesus is after in us, for us, with us.

Asking questions has become one of the core spiritual disciplines in cultivating my intimacy with God and facilitating the healing and restoration of my masculine heart.

Every question eventually leads back to the heart of God. 

One of the primary ways of cultivating this discipline is to create a culture in our home and our parenting of asking questions, encouraging questions, and valuing questions.

What if one of the most brilliant and winsome ways we can respond to our kids’ questions is: “I don’t know, sweetheart; what a great question!”

It is amazing how often Jesus answered a question with asking a question.  I wonder what that was about?

Here are some of the questions on the frontier for me:

  • I don’t get Philippians 1:18 at all.  Father will you speak to me about that through the heart of an older man I can trust?
  • How much is enough?  What is the lifestyle for our family that is holy and consistent with our calling today?
  • Am I living generously?  Is there more you are asking me to sacrifice for a larger story and to cultivate risk in my life?
  • God, where am I placing limits on who you can be and what you can do in my life?  And why?
  • How much of tomorrow matters today?  How much should it?
  • How do I engage in civilian affairs without being entangled (2 Timothy 2:1-7)?
  • Why am I captive to “the fear of man?” What’s behind that?

What questions can you ask today to become a student of the hearts of your children?

What questions are on the frontier of your masculine journey that you have yet to articulate?

Father, show me the deep questions of my heart. Help me put words to them in a way I haven’t before. Remind me of the Scriptures that have bugged me or bewildered me but about which I haven’t had the courage to ask. Bring these to light again.

Free me from the expectation that I should have more of everything “figured out.” Allow the exhilarating freedom to “not know” sweep over me.

Hold my heart in the instant regret that shows up when I think of the questions of my kids that I have dismissed and now can’t even remember. Stir up new questions in them and in me, Jesus; that today might be a new day. Renew an inquisitive heart in my whole family – in me, in my wife, in my kids. Come strong, delighted Father, come… come for my heart and my questions today… Father me in this today. I love you and receive your love.

 

For a previous related post see: What Are Your Questions?