TMC Student Life is in the midst of two weeks of RA interviews right now as we try to follow the Lord's leading as to who should serve their fellow students next year as Resident Assistants. It's always fairly grueling for everyone involved, but it's a joyful and stretching experience both for the students and for us.
Because I'm sitting with my fellow RD's for hours on end asking questions of student applicants, I'm constantly reminded of the power of a good question. There have been some doozies so far, which I won't share here since there are still guys yet to interview and I wouldn't want to give anything away (it probably wouldn't matter since the questions are specific to the individual each time). However, I thought it was appropriate to simply say here that good questions are essential to biblical relationships. The reason why we feel like the casual, passing "How-are-you?" isn't enough is that we all know that more is going on in our hearts and lives than a question like that assumes or has time for.
A good question is a relevant question, and usually an open-ended question. It's also asked with the full intent to listen and understand before responding. I have learned that a good challenging question should be asked with a balance of grace and directness. It's usually condescending and manipulative to ask a question merely for shock value or to put a person on his heels, but with that being said, I've realized that I'm self-deceived and proud enough that I need (appropriate) people to ask me questions that might make the conversation awkward and that I might not immediately like. Having friends who do this lovingly, humbly, and regularly is a precious gift for the Christian who cares more about growing in his walk with God than protecting and excusing his secret sins and weaknesses.
Ask one of your good friends a penetrating question today, one that deals with the Word and with the heart and with the things that matter most. Don't do it threateningly or accusingly or condescendingly (or out of the clear blue sky), and don't be a lazy listener. Then ask follow-up questions. And be ready (and eager) for a question to be bounced back at you, and answer it with honesty and humility and a desire to think hard about what God can teach you from it. You can do it at lunch or while you're walking or in the car or over the phone. Doing this together is one small way to keep us thinking about the Lord on a personal level, and it will deepen our community and fellowship with one another.
"How are you doing with sexual purity?"
"What's the most impactful verse you've read this week?"
"How did the Lord save you?"
"What's your family like?"
"What scares you most in life?"
"What do I not know about you that would surprise me?"
"What do you wish were different about your prayer life?"
"When's the last time you took your wife on a date?"
"What have you learned about parenting in the past week?"
"What do you think my major weaknesses are?"
"When's the last time you shared the gospel?"
We need each other. We need to be challenged and encouraged and supported and prayed for and confronted and comforted by each other. We need each other's gifts and perspectives to balance out our own. Asking good questions (and being willing to answer them honestly when they're asked) is one way to fulfill this need.
There is coming a day when each of us will stand before the judgment seat of Christ and will give an account of our words and our deeds and our attitudes and our entire lives. Nothing will be hidden. Everything will be exposed. I imagine that I might well be asked questions that will strip my soul bare and leave me stammering without my hypocrisies and excuses and evasions. It would be wise to do all we can to help each other be ready for that day.