Why I don't always give people an answer

November 11th, 2015

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.

But I don’t always give people answers.

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

I know that seems hard to understand, maybe even cruel of me.

Now, if there is a clear biblical answer for their problem or issue, I give it to them — as I understand it. I’m talking about the issues more difficult to discern. Things such as career choice decisions, the calling in life decisions, who to marry, how to respond to a marriage conflict, etc. — the unwritten answer type decisions.

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


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 whigh may speak to both sides of the decision. 
  • I serve as an outside voice. 
  • I connect them with people who have experienced similar issues. 
  • 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 may 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. 
  • They will only need someone to give them the answer next time. 

My advice:

Don’t always have an answer.

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

Leaders, parents, friends: Ideally you want people to develop healthy decision-making skills. You want them to gain independence and be able to stand on their own. If you’re always making the decisions for them they will never they will never become all they can be individually.

Are you too quick to have an answer sometimes?

Ron Edmondson blogs at RonEdmondson.com.

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