Don't Always Give an Answer

Posted on October 11th, 2011

I have a theory I practice often. I’ve been using it for many years…as a leader, father, a friend, and a pastor. It’s not always what people come looking to me for, but I think it’s the best practice.

I don’t always give people answers…

  • As a pastor, people come to me for answers…
  • As a dad, my boys come to me for answers…
  • As a friend, people come to me for answers…
  • As a leader of a team, people come to me for answers…

In either case, I don’t always give people answers…

I don’t try to solve their problems for them.

Now, please understand, if there is a clear Biblical answer for their problem or issue, I give it to them, but these are the issues more difficult to discern. These are the career choice decisions, the calling in life decisions, the unwritten answer type decisions.

For those type issues, I probably have an opinion, but I never “have” the answer.

Instead…

I help people discover a paradigm through which to make the decision…

  • I become an objective listener…
  • I help them see all sides of the issue…
  • I share Scriptures that may speak to both sides of the decision…
  • I serve as an outside voice…
  • I may diagram the problem, as I hear it, so they can see the issue on paper…
  • I help them learn to pray and listen to God..

And then I release them to make a decision….

Here is my reasoning…

If I solve the problem:

  • I’m just another opinion…and I may be wrong…
  • They’ll resent me if it proves to be a wrong decision…
  • They’ll never take ownership of the issue…
  • They’ll likely do what they want anyway…
  • They won’t learn the valuable skills of listening to the voice of God…
  • They won’t learn from experience…

My advice:

Don’t always have an answer…

Help people form a paradigm through which to to solve their problems or make decisions…


Ron Edmondson is Lead Pastor of Grace Community Church in Clarksville, Tenn.
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