Note: The first edition of this post was rather harsh and judgmental, which is ironic considering the topic of this post! I apologize for that. I have re-written this post to hopefully better communicate the heart of what I was trying to say.
Chances are either someone has said to you or you have said to someone else, “Well, that was a stupid question!” The problem is, defining a “stupid” question is difficult; people who have been accused of asking “stupid” questions tend to refrain from asking really good questions because they do not know what constitutes a “stupid” question.
So you may ask, “What is a ‘stupid’ question?” I’m so glad you asked.
Usually “stupid” questions include the following:
- Rhetorical questions, or questions asking the obvious.
- Questions unrelated to the matter at hand.
- Questions that are impractical.
- Questions that are embarrassing for either the person asking the question or the person being asked.
- Questions that have been asked before, usually recently and by the same person.
- Questions that are naïve.
I really think that by designating questions as “stupid” we are really trying to be funny and even helpful, not trying to be mean. Unfortunately instead we tend to come across in some pretty negative ways:
- Self-centered. What we are really saying: “Don’t ask questions that I think are ridiculous.”
- Condescending. What we are really saying: “You are immature and childish.”
- Prideful. What we are really saying: “I know which questions are reasonable and which ones are not.”
- Judgmental. What we are really saying: “You are embarrassing.”
- Insensitive. What we are really saying: “I don’t care why you asked that question.”
Calling a question “stupid” communicates to other people that we do not care about them.
If you want other people to feel like you care about them, try doing the opposite of calling a question “stupid:”
- Welcome every question.
- Ask why they are asking that particular question.
- Demonstrate empathy by putting yourself in their shoes.
I am certain many times Jesus had every right to say to his disciples, “Now that was a doozie of a stupid question,” but he didn’t. He spoke to the root of the question and gently guided them in the right direction.
Jesus does the same for you and me. I am human, and so are you, and so is everyone else. Let’s show the same grace to each other.
In which relationships do you need to show more grace? Do you need to ask forgiveness of anyone?