As a student at UNC and later, at Queens I took classes on how to ask questions. At UNC, it was for my journalism degree. To be able to share the “news”, you must learn how to uncover the “news”, right? [What happened? When did that happen? What did you see? Who was involved?]
At Queens, it was different, yet similar. It was for classes that were teaching me how to be an executive coach, where I was learning to uncover the thoughts and processes of a client. We had exercises where we had to come up with lists of what we considered “powerful questions”. [What is going on in your world today? How does that make you feel? What is stopping you? These questions courtesy of Coaching For Change by John Bennett and Mary Wayne Bush.]
I often think about the impact of asking questions and being a curious person. It’s a personal goal of mine. To listen more than I talk. [I probably fail at that goal more than I achieve it….I do like to talk….but my mother y’all….she really likes to talk….just kidding….love you mom!]
Recently, I learned that Jesus asked over 300 questions during his ministry, was asked around 200 questions by other people and that he only directly answered a handful of those questions. He often answered a question with a question.
Jesus used questions to connect with people. He asked questions that sought to understand the heart of the person he was with. At a pool in Jerusalem, he asked a disabled man, “Do you want to get well?” (John 5:6) Jesus probably knew the answer to that question already, but he still asked it because there was power in the response. The man shared his loneliness and isolation with Jesus. Jesus responded by healing the man and telling him to get up. Note that before Jesus acted, he asked.
There’s so much more to a question than simply uncovering information. Questions help us connect with other people and when answered, they help us understand. Each other. And, ourselves.
Connection and building relationships is what Jesus modeled and it’s the way I want to live life. I’m not a mom, but I spend a lot of time with kids in my car. We jam out to music, read books [them…not me, I’m driving, duh] and play games. Mostly though, I use that time to ask them questions. To find out what’s going on in their lives. To find out what’s on their hearts. I have a captive audience….even with the teenagers. So, I take advantage of it. And I ask lots and lots of questions.
Their responses help me understand them better. But they also help them process….their thoughts, their lives, their place in the world. And ultimately, those questions….and responses….help us connect and build a relationship. We have more than memories….we have shared hearts. Because we’ve been open and honest with each other. And yes, I am open and honest with “my” kids. I don’t share every detail of my life. But they know enough to know my heart on a bunch of different things. And, they are learning that they can ask questions too.
Do you ask before you act? Do you ask more questions than you answer? Do you assume you know a response? Or do you approach a person or situation with a curiosity like Jesus?
Be intentional. Don’t assume. Ask questions. There is power in the response.