Asking the WHY question...

This morning I was reading 1 Kings 1 and was struck by the comment on David's failure to ask his son Adonijah the 'why' question  throughout his life. 

The placement of that comment seems to suggest that Adonijah's actions were in part due to a lack of that question being asked of him by his father.

5 Now Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, “I will be king.” And he prepared for himself chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him. 6 His father had never at any time displeased him by asking, “Why have you done thus and so?”
— 1 Kings 1:5-6

I don't want to overstate the suggestion but it got me thinking about my parenting, pastoring, discipling and my friendships. Do I ask the 'why' questions? If not why not? Do I do it skilfully? What are the consequences if I do not? Am I being asked that question - if not why not?! How do i respond when asked that questions...


The Challenge - I think the first thing to note is that it is not normally an easy question to ask or receive. Verse 6 tells us that David had never 'displeased' Adonijah by asking him the 'why' question. Being asked the 'why' question is usually displeasing!  At best it makes us realise others are confused by our actions/thoughts and it is not a great 'idea' or we may have it worst it reveals wrong/bad motives. Asking the questions isn't easy, being asked isn't either


The Consequence - When we live our lives not being asked the 'why' question do we stop asking it ourselves? Do we increasingly just do what 'we feel like' without developing the habit of asking 'why'? And even if it is just us asking 'why', surely we get blind spots? How many times have you seen earnest people fully convinced in a course of action when nearly everyone around them is shaking their heads and thinking it is foolish? Unless we learn to ask 'why' in a deep and meaningful way, and unless we have others around us asking 'why', I think we are prone to go down a wrong path, be more easily deceived and miss out on greater freedom in our lives.

The Culture - Obviously asking 'why' isn't the only thing we do or say. Encouragement, listening, deepening relationships etc are all key things that create a healthy culture in which the 'why' question is asked. Neither is the 'why' question only to be asked when there is disagreement or confusion - it is a great question to ask simply to learn what is behind a course of action or thinking. It is good to ask 'why'. It is essential to ask why to avoid pain, unnecessary failure and heartbreak.


I am grateful that I was on a leadership team (church) where we met regularly and asked lots of why questions - Why did you say that? Why did that affect you like that? Why did you put it that way? Why weren't you there? As a team we wen through a season of learning to ask, and be asked, that is strange at first and often displeasing! When you learn it comes from a place of love, care and concern it is easier than when you presume it comes from a skeptical point of view! As with everything, it takes time to become 'normal'...learning to drive is awkward, requires new coordination, is filled with worry and is exhausting...but in time it becomes automated, relaxing (ish!) and opens up opportunities. Being asked and asking 'why' is the deliberate and keep going, it becomes easier and you begin to see so much more, avoid pain, make more considered decisions and hopefully avoid going down the path that Adonijah did!

Worldview - I grew up in Zimbabwe and lived there for 20 formative years. The last 16 I have lived in the UK...I am very grateful that I saw life through 'Africa' and now thorough the 'UK' - it makes me realise people think and do things differently, with deep conviction, thinking theirs is the right way...but when you boil it down it isn't simply right or wrong (although can be) - just different! the 'world' we grow up in shapes our thinking a Christians our thinking is shaped a lot by the world around us, music we listen to, TV we watch...and many ways of thinking are formed in us before we start to really think for ourselves! As 'aliens' in this world, Christians need to ask the 'why' question a lot! Why do I think/do this or it because I am 'gospel shaped' in my thinking or 'culture shaped'. We are all culture shaped more than we realise..asking the 'why' question helps us more and more think and live as 'heavenly citizens'. 'Why' reveals where we are 'earthly' in our thinking and where we are 'heavenly'.


  1. Who asks you 'why' questions?
    • If no-one why (!) not? Have you taken the time to invest in key relationships? 
  2. How do you respond when asked 'why'?
    • Have you pushed people away?
  3. Are you asking the 'why' questions?
    • Remember the goal is to help people not simply point out wrong!
  4. When reading the Bible do you regularly ask 'how does this impact how I think, view and approach things?'