How to Ask (and Answer) Questions

How to Ask (And Answer) Questions

Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored. Titus 2: 3-5

We, women,  often have a lot of questions. We realize that a lot of our questions can be answered by other women(especially the older and wiser women) in our church, but we often hesitate to ask. Sometimes we’re embarrassed that we have to ask the question in the first place. Other times we’re not sure even where to start with the mountains of questions taking up space in our heads. Often we second guess ourselves about whom to ask.

Take heart. The fact that you have so many questions is probably a good sign. It means you want to learn, which is something we should do all throughout our lives—provided, of course, that we do something with our new knowledge. Here are some guiding principles both for when you’re the one asking questions and for when you’re the one answering them.

As with all things, God provides and puts us in relationships within the church to help us navigate the “whats, whys, and hows” in life. Whether we are giving or receiving, the Titus 2 mandate is clear that we are to do so with kindness, purity, and self-control and that we remain in submission to our authorities.  Keep in mind that whether you’re asking or answering questions, your top priority should be glorifying God. If it’s not, figure out what needs to change in order to reorient your priorities.

Tip #1: Try to ask specific and definite questions. “What do you do for homeschool?” or “How do you feed your babies?” are questions that will get you information overload and possibly a really awkward conversation. Whoever you’re asking will struggle to give you the most important information or, worse, will give you all the information she can think of without much rhyme or reason. Start with something more like “What homeschool curriculum do you use?” or “What solids do you give your babies first?” You could still end up with a long conversation, but it has a definite direction.

Tip #2: Don’t ask a broad audience if you can help it. If you ask a question in the group chat with all the ladies at church, you’re going to get either no answer because everyone is waiting for someone else to answer or a potpourri of answers that will leave you just as confused as you were to begin with. If you have an idea of who would be best to answer your question–for example, if you know who’s a good baker and you want to know how to decorate a cake–ask her specifically. Who cares if you’ve never talked to her before? She goes to your church. You’re family. And you’ll probably make a new friend! If you’re not sure who can best answer your question(s), get ideas from your friends in the church or go with the vague ideas you have now. Don’t let not knowing the best way to do something stop you from doing anything.

Tip #3: Take notes! That might sound nerdy, but if you get the long conversation referenced in Tip #1, and that conversation has a lot of information you want to remember, how are you going to remember it? You could always ask again later, but when will you get another chance or actually remember to ask again? Just go ahead and write it down.

Tip #4: If you have a question that you think has a long answer, or if you have a lot of questions you think one particular woman could answer well, set a time to talk about it. Invite her over to your house, on a playdate (even if she has kids and you don’t or vice versa), or out for coffee to go over whatever you’re thinking about. Is someone particularly good at keeping house? Don’t just walk up and ask her “What’s your cleaning routine?” Ask her if she can come over and talk about housekeeping with you sometime this week.

Tip #5: Take things with a grain of salt. Unless your question has to do with absolute truth, don’t take the answer as such. We all have our own situations, personalities, and preferences. Maybe someone else’s morning routine that you think is so fabulous actually would not work practically for you just because she’s single and you have four children. Or maybe she has way too strong an opinion about what kind of cinnamon you should buy. Remember that no matter how much you admire her, she is still human and doesn’t know everything.

Besides knowing how to ask questions, we should know how to answer questions when they’re asked of us. So here are some tips for how to answer questions.

Tip #1: Don’t start with, “Oh, we just…” If you’re being asked a question, most likely the woman asking you for advice looks up to you. Take that seriously and humbly. Don’t blow it off. If you can’t answer easily, set up a time to talk about it.

Tip #2: Don’t shirk the question by laughing and saying So-and-So does it better. Again, your sister looks up to you, and teaching her is part of your job. If you truly don’t know the answer to her question, humbly say so and let her know who would be able to answer. If you do know the answer, tell her, and if you really do admire someone else’s way of answering, let her know that too and suggest she speak to So-and-So.

Tip #3: Ask her questions to find out exactly what she’s asking. Keep your fire hose in check. She might be asking because you know everything about a subject, but this probably isn’t the time for you to tell her everything you know. If you give her more information than she wants or can handle, you’re going to give her Brain Clutter.

Tip #4: If the question you’re being asked is broad or has a broad answer, invite your sister to your house or out for coffee so you can discuss it. If she does ask, “How do you homeschool?” ask her if she can meet this week. But don’t say something like, “We should get together sometime and talk about it.” Don’t vaguely talk about doing important things sometime. Make a definite plan.

Tip #5: Consider the differences between yourself and the one who’s asking questions. Are you good at sewing and know it’s because you’re also good at math, but the one asking you about sewing has stated on multiple occasions that numbers and logic make no sense to her? Or are you naturally good at keeping a clean house but the one asking isn’t? Remind her (humbly, of course) of these things, and then try to see things from her perspective as you answer her questions. Then, if you know  So-and-So is more like her—even if So-and-So is not as good at sewing or cleaning as you are but has worked hard at it—suggest she talk to So-and-So.

No matter what you’re asking or how you answer, remember that asking is better than not asking, and answering is better than not answering. Take these things seriously, and strive for righteousness in them. Asking and answering take humility and boldness, so pray throughout the process. God will bless your efforts with good fruit

Finally, realize that there is also someone else to whom God has directed you to ask questions.  
1 Corinthians 14:34-35 34 The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church. 
If you are married, God has given someone to help instruct you in the faith- your husband.   It is always a good idea to run any questions or answers by him.

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