“I don’t know.” The importance of leading without all the answers.

idkSome leaders fear being asked a question for which they don’t know the answer. I don’t say that this could happen. I say it will happen. And that’s a good thing.

For what questions would it be appropriate to respond with “idk”? Questions such as,

* Should I break up with her/him?

* Should I ask her out?

* Why doesn’t he/she love me back?

* Should I change majors?

* Why didn’t God answer my prayer?

* Why did this person die?

* Did I not have enough faith?

* Why is it so hard to believe at times?

* Why does God not make it easier to know who he is?

* Why hasn’t he saved ____________?

* How is it possible for God to foreknow (even predestine) all things AND for me to have 100% free will?

Granted, with more of the story, I may be able to offer a more informed perspective. I can answer some of these questions with general answers from Scripture. Maybe I am even able to cast a vote of “yes” or “no.” But there should be many times when “I don’t know” is the best, even biblical(!), answer.

Why do I feel this way? Here are 6 reasons:

1. Do you have a better answer than “idk”? I’m not convinced that there exists a better (ie. more biblical) answer with the examples I’ve selected.

2. “idk” allows you to point them back to God who knows all things and can answer (Genesis 41:16, 39).

3. “idk” allows you to call them to worship God who may choose not to answer.

4. “idk” creates in them greater reliance on God, his Spirit, and his Word than you. Your “help” could actually come to harm.

5. “idk” helps them see that an answer is not their greatest need. God is.

6. “idk” communicates a need for faith. There will be things we do not understand. Yet the Bible gives us much that we cannot misunderstand. We walk forward with faith because of those truths we cannot possibly misunderstand.

What do you think?


Does “idk” have as much redemptive value as I suggest? Does giving “idk” as an answer freak any of you out?

Posted on by Cor in LEADERSHIP

2 Responses to “I don’t know.” The importance of leading without all the answers.

  1. Dave Nelson

    Cor, you and Ravi Zacharias (or at least people who work for his ministry) are on the same wavelength. Yesterday, I got a tweet from him: “Far from being a showstopper, the phrase “I don’t know” is only the beginning” And the link: http://www.rzim.org/rzim-news/it-starts-with-i-dont-know/ Check it out!

    • Cor

      Thanks Dave. This was really encouraging to see and read.

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