There is more to writing a good story than having perfect spelling. Winning a spelling bee does not immediately make you a good writer. Knowing the spelling, meaning and origin of words is foundational to good writing. But good writing is so much more than these.
In the same way, good theology is foundational to living the Christian life, but the Christian life is so much more than good theology.
The danger to those of us who identify as church leaders is that we can be quick to dispense knowledge and think our job is finished when we do.
But, if we are in the business of helping others to write their stories, we owe it to them to not stop at providing information.
Years ago one of my daughters was given a list of words by her teacher and instructed to use each of the words in a story. Even though she was, and remains, a creative child, she found this assignment frustrating and it took some effort to get her past her frustration.
Now, I could have drilled her ad nauseum on the correct spelling of every word on her list, but improvement in spelling would not have helped her at all with her assignment.
We can work very hard to make sure that the people in our churches have lots of Bible knowledge and are theologically grounded. This is a good thing, but too often we stop there and don’t spend the time to understand their situations and help them with their own, personal story.
Jesus had many people appeal to him for information and sometimes his responses were surprising if not annoying. When one questioner addressed him as “Good Teacher,” Jesus asked him “why do you call me good” (Luke 18:19). When a woman asked Jesus to give her the living water, Jesus told her to go get her husband (John 4:16).
As we consider these recorded events in Jesus’ life, we can see that his response was intended to go deeper than the original request. Jesus was drawing his questioner to consider his story in a new, deeper and better way.
Can we admit the fact that we like being the one who knows the answer? Can we admit that sometimes we respond with our primary motivation to be admired for our knowledge? After we repent of our pride, we can then seek to be used by God to assist others in drawing into deeper relationship with Jesus.
There is nothing wrong with having or dispensing knowledge, but wisdom should dictate how we do it.
We should take a page from Jesus’ playbook and dig deep enough to understand the “why” before we address the “what.”