Asking Good Questions
A friend once asked Isidor I. Rabi, a Nobel prize winner in science, how he became a scientist. Rabi replied that every day after school his mother would talk to him about his school day. She wasn’t so much interested in what he had learned that day, but she always inquired, “Did you ask a good question today?”
“Asking good questions,” Rabi said, “made me become a scientist.”
The Discipline of Not Having the Last Word
In his book, Soul Keeping, pastor John Ortberg describes his mentorship by Dallas Willard early in his ministry. The following vignette occurred while Willard was teaching a philosophy course at the University of Southern California, which demonstrates some of Willard’s character:
Toward the end of one of his philosophy classes a student raised an objection that was both insulting toward Dallas and clearly wrong. Instead of correcting him, Dallas gently said that this would be a good place to end the class for the day. Afterward, a friend approached Dallas: “Why did you let him get away with that? Why didn’t you demolish him?” Dallas replied, “I was practicing the discipline of not having to have the last word.”
So, “Yes,” Dallas said in response to my confession. “Being right is actually a very hard burden to be able to carry gracefully and humbly. That’s why nobody likes to sit next to the kid in class who’s right all the time. One of the hardest things in the world is to be right and not hurt other people with it.”
The Most Important Question
If someone asked you what the two most important questions you could ask were, what would you answer? If you are God’s child, there may be no more important questions than these two: What in the world is God doing right here, right now? And how in the world should I respond to it?
Taken from Awe: Why it Matters to Everything We Think, Say, and Do by Paul David Tripp, © 2015, p.119. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org
On Asking the Wrong Questions, from the Pink Panther
Clouseau: Does your dog bite?
Hotel Clerk: No.
Clouseau: [bowing down to pet the dog]
Nice doggie. [Dog barks and bites Clouseau on the hand]
Clouseau: I thought you said your dog did not bite!
Hotel Clerk: That is not my dog.
From the Pink Panther, © 1963
What is the Meaning of Life?
Recently I was watching a children’s television show on YouTube with my kids, when the host asked, “What is the meaning of Life?” His response was typical: “I don’t know,” but what he said next made me laugh: “I don’t know, but I could really go for a smoothie right now!” It’s funny to think about, but isn’t that how many of us respond to the big questions of life?
I don’t have the answer but a smoothie sure sounds good right about now! We end up numbing ourselves with immediate pleasures when we really need to do is search for the truth.
We mask our deep longings for meaning in different ways, sometimes with the classic drugs of our society, alcohol, opiates, food, prescription pain killers, or we do it with “good things” that become ends in themselves: our careers, our families, our busyness. As Socrates once said, “The unexamined life is not worth living”…So when the deep, foundational questions of our existence bubble up to the surface, may we look first to Christ, not a smoothie.
Stuart Strachan Jr
Still Looking for inspiration?
Consider checking out our quotes page on questions. Don’t forget, sometimes a great quote is an illustration in itself!