The Leader’s Dilemma: Are You an Answer Guy or a Discovery Guide?

Recently I was asked a question in an email about an apparent discrepancy in the Bible.

I answered it.

And then I got to thinking:  Instead of answering it, what might have happened if I would have led my friend to some resources and supported him as he searched for the answer himself?

Now, I’m not suggesting that every time someone asks me a question, I should avoid answering it, and put the onus back on them.  However, often as ministry leaders,  we play the role of “answer guy” or “answer girl” and in the process keep people from owning their own journey to discovery.

If our goal is to encourage, empower, and equip missionaries, we need to grow in our ability to discern when to simply answer people, and when to lead them to discover for themselves.

Here are four thoughts to consider as you decide whether you will answer or not:

1)  Adults learn when they have to.

Let our first inclination be that of providing support for people where they show a passion to learn.  Let’s not take the growth that comes in the journey away from them.

Ask:  Is this question I’m being asked a Divine moment full of growth potential, or is it a simple question with little real upside for growth?

2)  People grow as teachers when they put effort into their own learning.

Retention is more probable if I go through the journey myself.

Ask:  Is the person asking me the question likely to share the answer I am about to give with someone else?

3)  To give a simple answer is often easier.

I’m busy.  Sometimes it’s just simpler to give the answer and move on.

Ask:  Am I tempted to give the answer because I need to move on with my day?

4)  If I work harder to find the answer for someone than the one asking the question does, something is wrong.

The way we handle these situations can either reproduce consumeristic dependency or personal ownership.  I realize many leaders in the church today like to be needed.  But, God calls us to make disciples.  This is our missional calling.

Ask:  Is there value for the person who is asking the question to engage in their own learning and discovery?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeff Meyer

Jeff Meyer

I am Jeff Meyer, and I start fires. Ever since that basketball game in college when I came off the bench and lit a spark for my team, I have carried the nickname "Fire Meyer." (Until that point in my career my jersey #22 never saw the floor in an actual game. Perhaps the #22 was a symbol of my life calling: 2 Timothy 2:2?) I live to see sparks ignited and connections made. I long to see the church wake up and live. I long to see Jesus-followers display passionate commitment to Jesus. Jesus' invitation to follow Him was an adventure of epic proportions. Can we recapture that today? I long to see communities transformed into healthy places of wholeness. I believe that communities are transformed when Jesus-followers are stoked and respond. Perhaps you've heard it said that the church is the hope of the world. I believe that a responsive Jesus-follower is the hope of the world. "Igniting connections" is my way of setting off some inspirational sparks; sparks that ignite a passionate response to the call of Jesus.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

VRcurator — 04/12/13 6:37 am

Thanks Daniel! I've always liked the "leadership math" of multiplication more than just addition!

Daniel Im — 04/11/13 10:09 pm

Great thoughts!! Could I add one? By encouraging leaders to discover for themselves you are actually helping them grow in the skills of multiplication. You are helping them learn how to do the same thing to others.

Jeff Meyer — 04/11/13 2:19 pm

Have to often leads to want to. It seems that few are proactive. Espcially when it comes to the Kimgdom of God...we are often motivated out of desperate need. Thanks for the post!

J.R.Briggs — 04/08/13 6:37 pm

Jeff. Good, thought-provoking post. One thought though for number 1: would it best be worded "Adults learn when they want to"? Have to and want to are different (although in situations they can be similar, the implications are quite different). I'd love to hear your thoughts as we explore - and hopefully discover - more together. Thanks in advance. J.R.

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I grew up attending relatively small churches where everyone knew everybody and if you'd been there 5 minutes, you weren't a stranger anymore. Unfortunately that doesn't seem to be the case anymore, whether it's a large church or a small one. I do not actively attend church because the churches I have visited failed to extend a welcome. The greeter simply said "hello" and handed me a bulletin, during the "greeting time" the congregation only greeted those they knew, and, although I filled out a visitor's care as requested, I never heard a word from anyone after my visit. No phone call, no letter, no post card. I'm not sure how congregations expect to spread the gospel when can't be bothered to even be friendly!
 
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I hate the meet and greet. Do pastors think that 15 random strangers shaking my hand for .5 seconds will make me feel welcome? It is just insincere, when you spend 30 seconds talking to your friends and don't even ask my name. I really hate the "please raise your hand if you are new". The hand raising and random amens at the end of each paragraph are distracting and selfish acts meant to draw attention to the church goer, and away from the message. The other thing that I can't stand is hearing people gossip. Of course they don't gossip to a guest, but we all hear it, and it just makes you all seem fake. For those of you that think that none of this should matter... when your church pushes away new members, you are no longer serving God and are serving yourself.
 
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