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Learn to ask questions so you can learn, not for purposes of putting down your teacher or making yourself look good.

graphic: Martha G. Brady

Welcome back!  We’re now on Day 5 of our series on growing up.  Just in case there is a misunderstanding, there is absolutely no promise that after 31 days you will be grown up!  I am going to have to toss this reminder in every so often!  If a person is becoming aware that they are less than mature, the natural desire is to want to grow up…and fast!  It doesn’t work that way.

Maturity takes time and it is a process.  At my age, I still don’t feel “mature” in the sense that I often do very immature actions.  My thinking is quite immature as well…more often than I would like to admit!

By age, I am mature of course.  On occasion, I actually behave in a mature fashion as well.  The realization that maturity takes time and is a process will help as you begin the growth and change process.  However, the process will never be done in this life.

So, why am I talking about the subject at hand today?  What does it have to do with maturing and growing up?

Learning to observe life and ask questions…a great way to grow!

Learning to observe life and ask questions will help you grow…and grow up!  As you observe people, you will notice a lot of things about them that will prompt questions.  As an adult, you often need to be careful how you ask the questions of course, but asking the questions that come to mind, in the right setting, will help you learn even more about life and how other people live it.

I have learned a lot from other people about their lives this way.  It often helped me learn that I wasn’t as weird as I though I was.  Do you notice, especially at church, but often, in many other settings as well, that everyone else seems to look so “together?”  I used to look at them and think I was the only person in the world who struggled through life with feeling insecure, didn’t always know what to do in many settings, and felt uncomfortable around people who were accomplished.

Then I started asking other people about their lives and discovered that my feelings were pretty common.  As I have talked with women who are struggling in their personal lives, I have found that often the people who seem the most “together” have the most they are struggling to protect from the public.

I’ve found that things are rarely the way they seem!  So don’t take things at face value.  Ask questions.  You may be surprised at the answers you get and clarifications that pop out.  I often am!

 For those of you who don’t need encouragement to ask a lot of questions…

So, if you are one who tends to learn by asking questions…and yes, I am in that sub-group.  Keep hanging in with the questions.  Learn how to ask them in a way that is not confrontative, that does not try to “show up” the person being asked, or put them down in any way.  Attempt to ask them in ways that indicate that you actually want to learn vs. making pet points that show how smart you are.  This way you should be able to alienate less people than might otherwise normally be the case.

The process of maturing will develop as you submit to this process.  The short version of what I’m saying is “Don’t be a wiseguy.”  That’s the one side of being a frequent questioner.

Don’t be intimidated

The other side is when the person you are asking tries to intimidate you when you ask questions.  Don’t allow it.  I find this especially true when women are asking questions of men in authority.  I’ve learned to pretend not to notice.  But I do!  Frankly, I lose respect for people that deal that way with other humans…especially if they are weaker.  There is no need for it!

The places where I have often run into this problem have been in churches but it is not exclusive to church at all!  I have also run into plenty of respectful men at church, who were willing to patiently answer questions.  My own husband has been very good example.  I guess that is why it takes me by surprise when I bump into this kind of behavior.  He has spoiled me…and our daughters.  He has always been like this in small groups and churches where we have served.  His view is that the stupid questions are the ones we don’t go to the trouble of asking…or are too afraid of asking.

So, the short of it is this: if you are a questioner, don’t allow yourself to be intimidated if you are truly on a quest for truth.  If you are trying to show off or show up the teacher, you need to repent and change and learn to have a humble attitude in your quest for truth.

Motives are often difficult for us to judge…on both sides.

ChangePoint:

Think over the times you ask questions.  Think over your motives.  Were they truly for the purpose of learning?  (Rarely do we have motives that are purely anything…but think through possible motives.)  Do you ever find yourself thinking about how you can ridicule your teacher by asking a question a certain way?  Or embarass him by asking in a way that shows up his lack of knowledge on a topic.

Are there people in your life who seem to try to intimidate you when you ask questions?  Pay attention.  Are they doing it for the purpose of gaining control of your or a group you are in?  Don’t allow another person to manipulate you or a group you are part of by belittling your questions.  Don’t allow them to control you in that way.

 

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