“But Jesus said to them, ‘You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?’ ” Mark 10:38
I’ve heard parents, grandparents, and teachers of young children say, “There’s no such thing as a bad question?” And while I am in complete agreement with the sentiment they are trying to express, sometimes the message that gets sent simply isn’t true. And the thing is, most of the time the children know that what they’ve been told isn’t exactly true so the well meaning adults end up coming across as patronizing.
You see, while it may be technically true that there’s no such thing as a bad question; it’s also true that not all questions are good questions. Over the nearly five decades I’ve been alive I’ve observed that at times it can take a great deal of knowledge, insight, common sense, and imagination to ask a truly good question.
Take, for instance, James and John, in Mark chapter ten. They came to Jesus asking that, when he came into his kingdom, they be given the seats immediately to his right and his left. In eastern cultures these are the places of greatest honor and power. And lest you think that James and John were over the top in even making their request you have to understand that in many eastern and middle eastern cultures boldness in making requests was seen as a prerequisite to worthiness to receive power.
But, that notwithstanding, the disciples question demonstrates a tremendous lack of knowledge and understanding of God, his kingdom and the nature of power and authority in God’s kingdom. And these are topics too big to even summarize in a single devotional entry.
Like the disciples, we too have so much to learn. The things we say, the questions we ask, the way we work and relate to each other shows that when it comes to leadership we’re closer to the disciples understanding than we are to Jesus’. And leadership is just one area where our understanding needs to grow.
O Jesus, teach us through your Holy Spirit. Help us understand what you’re teaching us, and help us ask truly good questions.