"Who captured Fort Erie from the British?"
That question was asked of us as my wife and I ate dinner with friends at a restaurant recently. This unusual request was a woman's response to her eight year old grandson who was trying to impress her with his knowledge. I suspect he was also attempting to demonstrate how little his grandmother knew.
This African American woman, her Polish husband, and their Jewish grandson were sitting at a table near us. While the grandmother pondered the question about Fort Erie, she excused herself in pretense of going to the restroom. The boy had his back to us and was not aware of our conversation.
I was a bit surprised when this woman stopped at our table and asked the question. I did not know we had captured Fort Erie from the British. In fact, I did not even know there was a Fort Erie. My mind, and the minds of all of the people at my table, was blank. Some would say that was not an uncommon situation for me but quickly I realized a way to find the answer.
Lovett Weems, Director of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership, says that leaders do not have to have the right answers but leaders need to ask the right question. I agree with him but in this situation we had the question and the right answer was needed. After all we must not allow grandmothers to be intimidated by their grandchildren.
The iPhone and the internet came to our rescue. I googled (how quickly that has become a commonly used word) the question and in an instant had the answer. We all rejoiced as this proud grandmother went back to her table with the correct answer. The grandson was baffled. How could she have known that?
We rejoiced that the old folks had won this one.
This experience reminded me that I don't have to have all the right answers but it is important to know where to find them. God has provided many resources, including people, books, and technology to provide us with the information we need.
You can learn how to do many home improvement projects by attending free seminars at a local big box store. Schools, churches, and other institutions regularly offer classes to help people learn about many interesting and beneficial topics. As the world gets smaller and more diverse there are many opportunities to learn another language.
Skills and content can be mastered in many areas. If you are a fan of Garrison Keillor and the public radio show, A Prairie Home Companion, you are familiar with Guy Noir, the fictional private detective who is always trying to find the answers to life's persistent questions.
Where can you find the answers to life's most pressing concerns? United Methodists believe that the Bible is our primary source for knowing how to live. It does not give definitive answers to every question but the principles it contains are "the sufficient rule both of faith and of practice." I hope that you learn the contents of the Bible and know it so well that it becomes a part of your being. This Lenten season is a good time to begin or expand your reading and study of Holy Scripture.
If you want to know the answer to the Fort Erie question, look it up.
[Taken with permission from "Monday Morning in North Georgia," March 28, 2011. North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church.]