Not long ago I was hit with a question which felt like a Mack truck running me over. For 17 years I have pastored the same church and for the last 13 I have been bivocational. This question out of the blue set my head to spinning. I panicked, and my palms got sweaty. It sparked in me a fire that has led me to rethink a lot of things. What question could be so earth shattering? I was asked if I would ever be willing to transition back into full time ministry. Don’t misunderstand me, it wasn’t a job offer or something demanding an immediate life changing answer. However, it was a question of “would I”. Why was that so earth shattering? Because it caused me to stop and examine my heart. It was a chance to say, “I will do whatever God sends my way”, or “I can’t see God ever doing that…” Or some other way to stay in my comfort zone. That answer was revealing. It showed the condition of my heart.
Have you ever pondered the power of a well-timed question? In education, questioning is recognized as a great tool for provoking thought and getting students to make connections for themselves between different pieces of information. It is also a powerful tool in our spiritual walk.
That well timed question and my honest answer has been used by God to shake me up and renew my call to the ministry. Oh, I have been holding the position for years, but I am sad to confess that my other job had been dominating my time and energy. This innocent question got me studying what would change if I was full time. What is it a pastor does? What priorities are used to schedule their lives? What is the focus of their labors? After reviewing these things, I realized that I had no valid reason not to do most of those things now. A simple question has called me out of my rut and revitalized me. I have no idea if we will be blessed by growth to the point that I will be needed full time at the church and we can reasonably do that, but I know that pastoring is why I am here. It is why God put me on this planet and in my current community. It is a switch in my mind and heart.
Jesus obviously knew the power of questions. One example is found in Luke 9:18-19 HCSB 18 While He was praying in private and His disciples were with Him, He asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” 19 They answered, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, that one of the ancient prophets has come back.”
He engaged their minds by having them relay what answers others would give about who Jesus was. They went through the list, and then Jesus went in for the kill. He asked in verse 20, “But you,” He asked them, “who do you say that I am?”
This took the discussion from the theoretical to the real. It wasn’t just about the crowd, not it was personal. I love Peter’s enthusiastic response, “Peter answered, “God’s Messiah!” That statement of faith still echoes today.
Have you ever had a question hit you like that? Have you ever asked someone such a life changing question? That is one of the great things about the family of God. We can stir up each other and call each other to new levels of faithfulness. Often all it takes is asking a well-timed question. I don’t know if my questioner had any idea the impact it would have, but I’m glad they asked.