The Single Questions

Today I spoke to three high school classes on what to expect in a college writing classroom. What struck me most about the advice I gave was how much I love this one point: Write out the single question your paper attempts to answer. Keep that question near your computer to keep you focused. A great question sustains curiosity through the writing process. A great question keeps you, the writer, engaged. Think about a question with an answer that might contribute to our flourishing.

I thought about single questions that direct large writing projects, but then both the teacher and I wondered about single questions that address broader life pursuits. Is all of one’s life truly the pursuit of answering a great question? What if our question isn’t good or worthy? Moreover, if an outsider tried to guess our guiding life question by observing external factors, what would this person say about our life’s greatest question?

I’ve shaped my life around these questions that emerged from decades of refinement and recalibration: How do I help others write well? and How can I know God better and make Him known?

I wonder if the questions that dominate our lives contribute to either our joy or despair. If my life begins to showcase a question with an answer that ultimately won’t lead to human flourishing or a life of intimacy with God, then it’s time to ask better questions. I’m wondering more about more about the questions that shape my life.

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