Asking questions is a good thing. Every teacher and leader, clergy and priestess should encourage questions.
But why are we asking questions? Are we asking them for pure collection of information – which is the commendable reason for asking – or are we asking because we want validation?
As a person in the position of teaching and leading, in whichever form that is, it is important to realize that some people only ask to receive validation of what they already believe. Those people tend to show the following behavior:
1. Interruption – frequent interruption of the flow of an answer usual means that there is no willingness to actually hear the answer given. This is a good time to bring the behavior to the attention of the questioner, and then re-give the opportunity for her/him to re-state the question. If that direction does not stop the behavior, end the conversation.
2. Negative reaction, such as anger, or raising of their voice – many people react negatively when their long set believe system is questioned. It is best to leave those people with a short set of information and then disengage, to give them time to allow a percolation of the given information, at which time they should be able to come back for an additional conversation on the subject. This process might take time, but it allows for a more meaningful growth.
As spiritual leaders we also need to keep in mind that a question asked by a student or peer might hold a lesson within for ourselves, that challenges our own view point. It is important to acknowledge that, and change the direction of our answers and teachings if that does occur.
In a spiritual journey that is not based on a single text, such as it is for many, if not most Pagan paths, change in ones viewpoint is inevitable, to at least some extend. Teaching this open mindedness to our students is essential from the beginning.