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Yesterday I counseled a ninja.

Not an actual stealth soldier trained in the martial arts, but someone nearly as talented.  A person undeniably adept at verbal ninjitsu, the dark art of maneuvering around an issue by distracting everyone else with all the wrong questions.

It was a frustrating exchange.  Regardless of what I said, this person continued to loudly and emphatically repeat questions that moved the dialog away from the real issues. The ones that were just too personal. Too painful.

The right questions are vitally important.  They illuminate. But they also force our hand.  Good questions can be scary, especially when they make us look inward. So we’ve all become quite clever at not only avoiding them, but throwing out well placed distractions to move the focus elsewhere.

That’s why Jesus often answered questions with questions. If you look throughout the gospels, He rarely responded directly to an inquiry, especially from a religious leader.  Not only were they usually asking the wrong things, but their questions were laced with hidden meaning intended to trap or distract Jesus from the real conversation.

Jesus was the ultimate verbal ninja. He always knew how to bring the dialog back to the things that really mattered.

Which got me wondering.

Are there any questions I’m asking that are just veiled attempts to avoid what Jesus is really asking of me?

I Don't Know

Erik Cooper —  May 12, 2009 — 1 Comment

I don’t know.

Those are liberating words. Yeah, really. Not words a leader is naturally drawn toward, but words I’m trying to become more and more comfortable with everyday. Those words don’t make me weak. They make me honest. Fact of the matter is, sometimes you don’t know either (yeah, I know who you are).

Having it all figured out is not a pre-requesite of leadership. If it were, only good actors would lead. But just like all of you, I fight the desire to always have the perfect answer, to know the score, to have thought through every possible situation, equation, and outcome before it happens. Oh, and we also have to innately know the contingency plan, too.

As a church planter, I involuntarily desire to eloquently answer every structural, organizational, and visional question that comes at me. “Of course I know the strategic intent of our planned infrastructure’s capabilities to handle economic downturn over the next three years.” (Liar! I don’t even know what that question means).

And as a pastor, I’m required to understand all the theological minutia of God’s will, His plans, and His ways. Right? If not, why am I even here? So we make ourselves look good. We give the pat, trite, Christian answers (that really help no one). We squish the ungraspable nature of God into our little box so that people think we’re good at what we do.

Here’s the deal. Sometimes we just don’t know. All of us. And that’s OK.

I don’t want all the organizational answers. Not knowing gives me the liberty to experiment, to dream, to try new things never done by anyone before. It gives me the right to fail and get up and try again. That’s where greatness begins.

And I don’t have all the theological answers. I don’t want a God I can fully explain, that I can fit within the scope of my little world and perspective. I want a God that blows my mind with the unfathomable scope of His nature and being. Sometimes His will is simply beyond my ability to comprehend. It keeps me honest. It keeps me dependent. As Andy Stanley so eloquently says, “focus on the undeniable, not the unexplainable.

In my life, I’ve found that God often gives me just enough of the picture to keep me moving in His direction. I’m learning to live with that ambiguity, to thrive within those unknowns. It’s a beautiful thing.

So, here’s the deal. I don’t know. Yeah, I said it. I don’t know. Feels good. Maybe you should admit it, too. Wisdom begin there.