Asking the Right Questions

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When our kids begin to see the same God-doubting idolatry that Eve succumbed to driving their sin, they will also see their need for the promised Rescuer.

“Do you golf?”

I get this question regularly since I am surrounded by friends who keep golf bags in their trunks. My answer is always the same: “No longer.” When pressed for a reason, I give one word: “Slice.” My ball, because of my incurable slice, is usually found well to the right of the fairway. Many people have tried to cure my slice. My own dad paid for a lesson with a pro to fix it, but it only got worse.

I guess you can say I quit golf because I had to ask too many questions to figure out why my ball never flew straight. Are my feet spaced? Are my toes aimed? Are my knees bent? Is my left elbow straight? Is my head down? Are my fingers locked? Did I remember to let the dog out? Am I registered to vote? What’s for dinner? Goodness.

Sometimes we can be overwhelmed with questions. Sometimes, however, questions can be a great help, especially when it comes to Christian parenting.

I agree with what Dr. Jim Berg says in his book Changed into His Image: “Parenting, when understood biblically, is basically a discipling relationship.” While our children may not struggle with golf slices, they do struggle with sinful attitudes, paralyzing fear, destructive speech, dangerous actions, and growing lust, which can send their lives off in the wrong direction.

As parents, we are not content merely to see change on the outside. That is hypocrisy (Matthew 23:27–28). Change must begin in the heart—the center of our being (Proverbs 4:23). Our discipleship goal, then, must be to get their hearts out on the table for both us and them to see why they struggle the way they do so we can address their problems effectively. The only way to do this is by drawing out their hearts through questions (Proverbs 20:5). Further, we must teach them the questions to ask of their own hearts. Where do we start looking for the right questions to ask?

In the Garden of Eden.

Genesis 3:6 is clear that Eve fell prey to three specific areas of temptation: (1) physical pleasure (“good for food”), (2) coveting (“delight to eyes”), and (3) personal exaltation (“make one wise”). The New Testament affirms these three categories (1 John 2:16). I have found it helpful to teach kids three questions to ask themselves when they sin in order to help them understand why. Specifically:

What did I like? (“lust of the flesh”) What pleasure was I craving?

What did I lack? (“lust of the eyes”) What did I want so badly?

How did I look? (“pride of life”) How was I guarding my reputation or my own self-image?

All three questions reveal idolatry. And when our kids begin to see the same God-doubting idolatry that Eve succumbed to driving their sin, they will also see their need for the promised Rescuer—Christ (Genesis 3:15). Jesus faced all three temptations and emerged victorious because He looked to the Father to satisfy all these desires (Matthew 4:1–11).

Let’s teach our children to ask themselves these heart-revealing questions, which will put their life on the trajectory toward Christ-dependence and Christlikeness.

Jim Newcomer is the pastoral theology instructor at Virginia Beach Theological Seminary and is executive pastor at Colonial Baptist Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He earned his master’s degree from Bob Jones University in pastoral studies and earned his doctor of ministry degree from Northland International University.

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