Quite a few years ago I remember hearing someone talk about how they trained sales people and using the expression “ABC – Always Be Closing.” Thanks to the internet I just found out this expression was used in the movie Glengarry Glen Ross, a movie I haven’t seen.
Well this month I want to share something a bit different with you. It’s less alphabetical to be sure and I believe it’s a lot more important. I like to tell people they need to remember “ABQ – Always Be Questioning.”
Now I admit that’s a bit of hyperbole since no one always does anything, other than breathe. But I do firmly believe that if you want to really live a life of meaning and purpose you’ve got to learn the art of questioning almost everything sooner or later.
So let me begin by dealing with a few myths about questions. Are you surprised to hear a minister say this? The stereotype of my profession is that we discourage, if not downright forbid, people asking questions. I’ve been in the ministry since 1979 and not only have I always encouraged people to ask questions but I’ve only known less than a handful of pastors who didn’t. So let’s lay that one to rest.
The other myth I’d like to debunk is this one: “There’s no such thing as a dumb question.” Oh sure there is. I’ve said that myself, but let’s be honest and admit that there are a lot of silly questions that people ask. If you’ve ever listened to a press conference you already know that. There’s probably no such thing as an honest question, but all questions aren’t honest.
So why am I encouraging you to question? It’s very simple really. You’ll never learn anything, except perhaps by accident, unless you do. You’ll never grow, again except inadvertently, without questioning. You’ll also never really know if what you believe is true without asking the tough questions and then finding the real answers.
The problem with encouraging people to ask questions is that much of the time they don’t want to take the time or effort to find the answers for themselves. The truth of our life can’t just be handed to you by someone else. Sooner or later you’ve got to both ask the questions you hear in your heart and then do the hard work to find the answer.
You cannot and will not grow without it.
Let me give you a personal example. About five or six years ago I decided it was time for me to do a careful reexamination of the very basis of my faith. I didn’t do this because I doubted whether or not it was true. I had no doubts on that score. But as I read and listened to people I did begin to doubt whether or not I fully understood the deeper implications of the Gospel.
Since I was unemployed I couldn’t use the standard modern American excuse, “I don’t have time!” So I researched, did quite a bit of reading, and a whole lot of thinking. I also had to examine what I was teaching and, even more important, how I was teaching it.
The end result has been a profound deepening of my personal faith. I also believe, and hope, that it’s echoed in my teaching and leading of people in a deeper and more profound way. I couldn’t be happier about asking the questions and then following up by finding the answers and seeing how all that applied to me.
I encourage you to do the same for yourself. Don’t be afraid to reexamine your life occasionally. Don’t let what others say keep you from a full hearted search for more truth.
But do make sure you’re willing to do the work needed to find the answers, otherwise there’s no sense in asking in the first place. Summertime might be a good time for this too. Why not take some of the time you might have to not just sit under the air conditioning, but use that time to ask and answer some of life’s real questions?
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Louie Marsh is pastor of Christ’s Church on the River on the Parker Strip. Visit the website HERE.