Do you ask WHAT or WHY?

It was said that during his life, Albert Einstein possessed 6% of the world’s knowledge and was considered the smartest man in the world. Now if you had an opportunity to spend time with the smartest man in the world, what kind of questions would you ask him? Better yet, if you had an opportunity to sit down with Jesus, what type of questions would you ask him?

Truly, neither you nor I would be prepared to enter into those conversations now as we would have to study for weeks, months, even years to even know enough to ask a good question.

Even when we ask questions generally, do you mostly ask “WHAT?” questions or do you find yourself asking more “WHY?” questions?

When we ask ‘WHAT?’ we are typically seeking an understanding of the true nature, identity, or worth of something. We are seeking to understand the the sum of its characteristics. We ask a ‘WHAT?’ question because we lack knowledge.

When we ask ‘WHY?’ we are typically seeking the reason, cause or purpose behind something that we already know. We are already satisfied with our knowledge and understanding and are ready to judge the reasons and motivations behind it. We already think we know WHAT, now we just want to know WHY.

Recently, I’ve become aware of this tendency in myself to ask WHY when I really don’t yet understand WHAT. So I’m attempting to know WHAT about myself, others, and the organizations in which I’m involved. Asking WHAT takes time, patience, thoughtfulness, along with a great deal of humility. When I don’t take time with the WHAT, I miss out on a true understanding.

A man named Doug Larson once said, “Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you would have preferred to talk.” This is a nice paraphrase of Proverbs 18:2- Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.

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