Tag: A. W. Tozer

What’s the follow-up question?


A while back I sent an email to 300 men asking them to answer a simple question: “In the real world, what are you planning to do in the next 12 months that will define you as a man of faith?”

Some wanted to argue about the question, a few responded with lengthy theological explanations, but most took a few moments and shared a personal answer to my question.

A. W. Tozer said, “Were we to extract from any man a complete answer to the question, ‘What comes into your mind when you think about God?’ we might predict with certainty the spiritual future of that man.”

It makes perfect sense. Is your God omnipotent or impotent? Sovereign and aloof? Omnipresent and available? High and lifted up or familiar? Punitive or kind? Faithful or flaky? Loving or vengeful? Just or unjust? Able or unable to make a difference? Creator or kill-joy? So what comes to your mind when you think about God?

Good questions move us out of the shallows and into the deep. They force us to think and re-think the “why” and “what” of our lives.

Here are five of my favorite questions:
1. Why do people pray for an open door, then refused to walk through it?
2. What crisis time has God used to get your attention?
3. With all this faith around us and in us, why are we still so afraid?
4. What is it that keeps us from bringing out the best in people?
5. So, what’s your story?

We invest a lot of time as Christians, reading and re-reading the teachings of Jesus. We look for His answers. What about searching first, for His questions? He was the master of provocative questions. And, He seemed to always have an unspoken follow-up that inspired change, “So, what’s next?”


Chuck didn’t want to knock on her door; he didn’t want to be there at all. She had always been so negative, critical, and cranky.

“When I was in my twenties, I would write to her,” Chuck explained, “Instead of answering my letters, she would return them with spelling, grammatical, and stylistic corrections! Always complaining, she never had a kind word to say about anyone.”

He hoped she wasn’t home, but she was always home…she was 82 years old. Her negative attitude was evident as soon as they sat down. “Chuck,” she said, “why does your wife speak such poor English?”

For some reason, Chuck decided this day was going to be different. He had had enough and so had all the residents of the retirement community.

Looking her straight in the eye and without any animosity, he said, “Why would you say such a mean thing?”

That simple question provoked surprise and reflection.

Before leaving, Chuck told her he was working on a book. “I suppose,” she said, “when your name appears on the cover, it will be followed by B.A. and M.A.”

“No,” he said. “Degrees aren’t important. The president of one of the largest advertising companies in the world, Saatchi & Saatchi, has only a ninth grade education. Just because he quit school doesn’t mean he quit learning; on the contrary, he’s one of the brightest men in business.”

“You mean I don’t have to be ashamed that I only have a high school diploma?” Her husband had a Master’s Degree and everyone in her field had at least a bachelors, but not her. She started out at the bottom of the ladder in her profession, but because of her great talent became the manager of a department, overseeing college graduates.

Suddenly, all the pieces came together! No wonder she corrected Chuck’s letters. It was her way of saying, “I may not have a degree, but I’m smart enough to correct your letters.” She had let her “lack of education” grow into resentment that had destroyed her
As she ushered Chuck out the door, she headed straight to her desk. She had a lot of letters to write.

Now she knew her answer to my question number four, “What is it that keeps us from bringing out the best in people?”


Good questions not only provoke thought, they motivate us to take action, to make amends, to change direction. What is the question, that if you had the answer to it, would set you free?

Spend some time with one of my five thought questions. Write out your answer in your faith journal. Then find a way to share your answer with a friend.

Oh, the first question we usually ask a stranger is “What do you do for a living?” So, if you really want to know more about the stranger, follow up with… “How did you get started ___________?”

And the follow-up question, “What’s next?

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January 30, 2012 | 1 Comment More