I'm a big fan of asking questions, and adhere to the old Chinese proverb that 'He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question is a fool forever.' But the right questions can do more than build up mere factual knowledge, they can be a powerful catalyst for introspection, bringing about insight and change in our lives.
I was once asked such a question in the midst of an everyday conversation, and would like to share it with you. It had started with what appeared to be a fairly standard question, merely to start conversation:
'Who do you admire?'
I answered rather broadly, naming some of my favourite Christian heroes: Charles Spurgeon, Gladys Aylward, and Paul Washer...
But the question that followed it up was flame to powder. Read it slowly:
'What would you need to change in your life today to become more like that person?'
When I heard that, a light clicked on: these people that I admire were in a sense just like me. They weren't born with great powers, on a higher plane to us mere mortals; they were men and women who breathed the same air I now breath, had the same physical needs, the same desires. A different century perhaps, but still no more or less human than I am today.
I'm reminded of the old story about some tourists visiting a quaint village in the heart of Europe. They asked some one of the locals 'Have any great men had been born in this town?' He shook his head and replied, 'No, Only babies!'
The Bible declares that 'God has no favourites' (Romans chapter 2, verse 11). The people that I admire weren't born great Christians; they made daily choices across the course of their lives to follow Christ, choices that I also can make.
They went through trials, they fought battles, and won, but not without getting scratched. And maybe that's why I haven't emulated them completely, because I see that they paid a price, a heavy cost, to live the lives that they did. They sacrificed their comforts and pleasures for the greatest cause of all, knowing and being known by God.
But one thing is clear; the only thing stopping me from being like them is me. Am I willing to make the necessary changes in my life to become like the people I admire? Or am I happy with my status quo, my comfort zone, my little version of living a Christian life?
Am I just going to read the books about the great heroes of the faith, observing their lives from afar? Or am I going to dive in and join their ranks, marching to the same beat of the heavenly drums they followed?
Thomas Devenish lives in Hobart, Tasmania. He works as a motion designer and enjoys the diverse experiences life has to offer, from wake-boarding to curling up with a good book on a rainy day.
Thomas Devenish's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/thomas-devenish.html