Have a Good Answer, or Admit You Don’t

Tell-the-truth

As I watched our recent political season unfold, I watched numerous interviews, at least large portions of each debate, and read a lot of coverage on things. Some of the answers candidates gave in no way addressed the question at hand and sometimes violated the truth. However, the ones that eroded my confidence quickest were those given when it was obvious they didn’t have a good answer–but answered anyway. They were trying to provide enough smoke and mirrors to make it appear they knew the answer.

I would vote for an honest answerer over the person who felt they had to have them all. Anyone who is actually much of thinker has plenty of questions to which they are still working on the answers. Anyone who has an answer for everything is either substituting talking for real answers, isn’t deep enough to have questions, or arrogant enough to believe they know it all.

When a church member asks, “Why haven’t we …?” or “Why do we…?” there is immense temptation to hem and haw around, or to give answers we know are insufficient, but will get the person off our back. Let me encourage us all to admit when we don’t have a good answer to something, but seek it out. Simply saying, “You know, I don’t have a good answer for you right now, but I’ll try to get one for you,” instead of the old razzle dazzle, will ultimately earn you more credibility in the long-term–even if it feels crummy short-term.

I acknowledge sometimes people ask questions they hope will trap you or trip you up. I acknowledge sometimes good answers are not perceived that way. Sometimes what people believe is a poor answer is really just not the answer they want to hear. So, if the answer is the answer, answer that way. Don’t tell them what you think they want to hear–unless it’s actually true. If it isn’t, be willing to tell them what they may not want to hear. If the asker things you’re a dufus before they ask the question…they will likely think so after the question, regardless of what your answer is. However, our calling is honesty and aim is excellence, that means we avoid the old razzle dazzle, and either provide a good answer or admit we don’t have one–yet.

It humbling for us.

It’s truthful.

That’s always the right answer.

Dr. Tim Spivey is Lead Planter of New Vintage Church in San Diego, California. He is the author of numerous articles and one book, "Jesus: The Powerful Servant." A sought after speaker for events, Tim also serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University. Tim serves as a church consultant, and his writings are featured on ChurchLeaders.com, Church Executive magazine, Faith Village, Sermon Central, and Giving Rocket.

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