As the familiar tale has it, the professor of a Philosophy 101 class enters the classroom to administer the final exam. Stepping silently to the blackboard, he writes there the one-word question “Why?” Turning to the class, he says, “Here is your exam question. Write.”

There is, as well, the persistent image of the toddler, curious about everything but limited by experience, exposure, knowledge and vocabulary. And so it is that she begins to ask her parents, “Why?” No matter what answer they offer, the child’s response is invariably a follow-up question: “Why?”

Tragically, many of us in positions of ministry leadership seem less wise than either the philosophy professor of the toddler. “Why?” is nearly always the most critical of questions, yet it often remains unasked. We are impatient. We prefer to dive in with other questions, questions that strike us as being more relevant. “How?” typically tops the list. The tyranny of the “urgent” needs and demands of those we serve presses us to swift response. We feel a need to act and to do so now. It is not surprising then that books with titles or subtitles promising how-to solutions for pastors, teachers, and other servants typically top the charts of best-selling Christian books, just as is the case in other publishing markets. Perhaps it is a sign of the times.

From Gary A. Parrett and S. Steve Kang, Teaching the Faith, Forming the Faithful: A Biblical Vision for Education in the Church (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2009), 19.