The Bible records Jesus asking 307 questions. He was asked 183 questions and only answered three. Jesus understood the art of empowering others through intentional questions. Jesus didn’t want people to just listen to Him—He wanted others to engage with Him.
I’ve learned a thing or two about leading students with Jesus’ leadership tactics in mind. I’ve realized the importance of learning to ask better questions rather than giving perfect answers. A church-going middle schooler may “know” that their identity is “in Christ” but may have never thought deeply about how that affects his everyday life. Engaging them with questions is crucial.
When I was a professor at Azusa Pacific University, I started off my Monday classes by asking if anybody had done anything interesting over the weekend. There were typically one or two stories about trips or birthdays. “I took a vow of silence,” one student said. He explained how he refused to talk the whole weekend, and then he said, “You should try it!”
I grinned. Full of mischief, I mouthed, “Okay.”
At first no one believed it, but after a minute the room crackled with nervous energy. I heard “No, wait, she can’t be serious.” I was. My voice had left the room.
That morning I was learning to be silent. It seems like a teacher needs to talk, but I realized I could teach just as well if I listened. That whole class period I was without a voice.
In the midst of awkward stares, a student walked up on eggshells and started to recite my slides, throwing in his own facts from the reading assignment. Then someone else spoke up. The class dialogued. It was definitely not a normal day.
That day I learned the value of a voice, and not just my own. My students had the opportunity to learn in the deepest way the day I delegated the role to teach.
Jesus had all of the answers but chose to tell stories and ask questions. One of the best ways a parent can engage with their middle schooler is by sharing stories and then asking intentional questions and listening—really listening—to their answers. Your child is trying to figure out who she is and great questions can lead to great discovery.
Parents, God is not asking you to transform your middle schooler. Release that burden. He is calling you to love him and trust God with the changing.
QUESTIONS TO THINK THROUGH PERSONALLY
1. Read Ephesians 1:1–14 and reflect on what it means to be “in Christ.”
2. Think through how you typically answer the question, “What do you do?” Do you answer with different roles you play? Like, “I am a stay-at-home mom,” or “I am a school teacher.”
3. Ephesians is broken up into two sections:
• Chapters 1—3 state who God is and therefore who He says we are “in Him.”
Note: who we are in Him has nothing to do with what we’ve done.
• Chapters 4—6 describe how we are to live in response. How often do you find yourself defining who you are based on what you do?
IDENTITY QUESTIONS TO ASK
1. What are you most known for in your friend group (e.g,. funny, athletic, smart)?
2. How do you want to be known in your friend group?
3. What does it mean to be “in Christ?”
4. How can knowing your truest identity “in Christ” change the way you live?