Ask a Lot and Listen Well

As a teen, I had a million questions as I started getting serious about digging into God’s Word. I didn’t have a lot of helpful resources back then, and I asked anyone who I thought could help me find the answers. I remember asking one pastor privately (repeatedly), if he could please explain what the Bible was talking about when it mentions the “gift of speaking in tongues.”

The pastor promised me he’d get back to me on that one.

(I’m still waiting to hear back from him.)

Thankfully, today I have lots of resources, good commentaries, and various study Bibles with notes from solid theologians (I also have a neat living arrangement with my current pastor—he’s my husband!). I have so many good resources at my fingertips that I’m spoiled, but resources alone are not the answer to spiritual growth . . . we’ve got to ask plenty of questions and listen well.

Curiosity, an open ear, and a yielded heart are a must for spiritual growth.

This is Day 5 in the “Top Ten” series.

I’m running down a list of ten things I would encourage you to incorporate into your life, if you want to deepen your love relationship with Christ and press on to spiritual maturity. Today, we’re halfway through, and next week we’ll knock out the remaining five.

If you’re just now joining me in this series, I hope you’ll jump over and read the other posts this week where I address the Top Ten: 

#1 Embrace the Cross

#2 Abide in Christ

#3 Feed on the Word Daily

#4 Tremble at the Word

And then come back to join me for today’s topic:

#5 Ask a Lot and Listen Well 

When I say “Ask a lot . . .” I mean, ask questions as you read the Word (by the way, I hope as you read the Word you’re praying, i.e. you’re “in communication with the Author”). Ask questions of those who have greater life experience than you. Ask questions of those you respect spiritually. Ask questions when you’re in discussion groups at your Bible study.

Ask the Father questions about where you are spiritually, ask the Spirit to open your eyes to sin that needs to be confessed, to open your heart to the needs of others, to direct you in your study time, to lead you in the decisions you need to make that will affect your future or affect others.

It’s so important to ask questions when we read the Word, questions like:

Context Questions

What is the point of this text?

What is the context, what was happening here at the time of writing, who was writing this, why, who was being spoken to, where does this fit in the chronology of the redemptive story? What came before this passage, what follows it?

Heart Issue Questions

Before opening the Word ask the Spirit to open your eyes:

[box]Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law. (Psalm 119:18)[/box]

Ask the Author of Scipture to give you spiritual understanding and insight as you read.

I often ask things like:

“Why did you use this particular word here?”

“What is significant in this passage that you want me to see today?”

“How do you want me to apply this passage to my life today?”

Spiritual Growth Questions

My husband is my main go-to person when I’m asking about where I am spiritually because he knows me best. I often ask him to let me know what he’s seeing in me (based on my words and actions). If there’s a heart-issue he sees that I’m unaware of that is cropping up, he’s good to let me know that I’ve got a blind spot (thankfully he’s always gracious and gentle).

I have a friend who spends a lot of time with me and she knows me warts and all. I’ve asked her to please let me know (gently) when she recognizes me giving way to my natural bent of self-centered thinking.

I have another dear friend who is younger than me, but one who I place in the “spiritually mature” category. I recently asked her for input because of my frequent frustration in an area of discipleship. Without letting her know the specifics of why I was asking, I said: “How do you counsel women who you recognize are self-centered, but don’t realize they are?” I asked this friend for input because I see in her a very “others-centered” heart and I knew I could glean from her wisdom.

Asking questions is only the beginning.

Listening “well” must follow the asking and that includes listening and applying what I learn. 

I remember a colossal failure on my part once when my daughter was young teen-ager. She and I had experienced several mother/daughter clashes during that summer and she confronted me on my harsh behavior. I didn’t receive it well at all at first. It took a long night of God breaking me, before I realized that I needed to respond to her input in humility, graciously consider what she’d brought to me, and ask her forgiveness.

When we ask those around us for input . . . sometimes that’s the easiest part. The challenge comes when those giving input respond with an honest assessment that places a finger right on a damaged nerve. When they accurately describe an area of sin that has been justified for so long that it has become an accepted blind spot. Listening well to that kind of input is much harder than asking the question—but it’s what is desperately needed for spiritual growth to happen.

What questions do you ask that help you as you’re pressing on to spiritual maturity?