I’m an inquisitive person by nature and it’s a helpful quality to have for the most part.
My mom tells me of a time when I was 2 years old and we were riding a bus cross country together. Apparently it was the first time I noticed that we don’t all have the same colored skin.
Loud and proud I asked, “Mommy, why is that man’s skin so black?”
The man looked at my mom with a smirk that said, “How are you going to answer this one, lady?”
My mom handled it like a champ and replied, “Because that’s the way God made him, but we all look the same on the inside.” Apparently inquiring minds want to know and on that day the gentleman and I were equally satisfied with her answer.
Even though I’ve developed a level of tact as an adult, I’m still an inquisitive person. Just the other day a friend said to me, “I’m learning a lot about you in psychology class. You ask a lot of questions do you realize that?”
I said, “Absolutely- and it’s on purpose! But I’ll take any help you’ve got on the rest of the stuff you’re learning about me!”
“Asking the right questions takes as much skill as giving the right answers.” – Robert Half
I’ve discovered that many times we’re only one good question away from what we truly want! Sometimes we desire clarity- others times we’re seeking to be understood. Maybe we’re digging for truth, looking for a solution, or trying to ease frustration. You name it- the right question brings proper perspective.
A good question can help a person narrow down what they are truly feeling or trying to say. It can reveal if a statement or thought process is actually true- or if it’s simply based upon opinion and feeling. It can clarify in a moment what may otherwise fester for years.
The right question can help you get your point across while being helpful rather than bossy. The right question leads to discovery. It leads to change.
The art of asking good questions is something I wish all church people would take the time to develop. Even if we only acquired the ability to ask ourselves the question, “Is it true?” My thoughts, my opinions, my feelings… are they true? Do I have anyone in my life that has the right to tell me if it’s not true? If not, why don’t I have that person? Our overall emotional health is impacted by the answers to questions like these.
“In school, we’re rewarded for having the answer, not for asking a good question.” – Richard Saul Wurman
The process of learning through asking and answering questions is an actual method… it’s called the “Socratic” method. I don’t follow it in its entirety but I do believe people many times come to a faster and stronger conclusion when they discover an answer for themselves rather than simply being told what to do or think.
When someone in the church has an opinion or concern, it will usually be received better by the leadership when it is phrased in the form of a question. Think about this. Do you want someone to walk into your workplace and tell you what to do? Or, would you prefer someone “asking you to consider something?” This is important. A more effective strategy is to ask a question such as, “Have you thought of….. ” or…. “Is there a reason for….?”
One form of communication puts the leader in an automatic defense mode; the other seeks to bring understanding. It doesn’t matter what you think your intentions are. Perception is reality on this one. Here’s a self discovery question for the moment. “Is my communication style building bridges or building walls?”
When someone comes to me with a seemingly huge problem in the church I have a “go to” question.
“Can you give me an example or two please?”
What I’ve learned is that many people say things without first asking themselves, “Is it true?” After some investigative work, we usually discover a few isolated incidents. Annoying? Yes. A huge problem needing immediate action and deserving verbiage such as “never” and “always”? No. By the way, saying something always happens is never true.
I’m not suggesting we resort to acting like toddlers and question everything. In fact, there are times when questions are inappropriate. Like when we answer a question by asking another question. That’s called being a Socratic jerk who tries to belittle someone’s curiosity by being condescending.
I am, however inferring that the right question at the right time can aid in our journey toward maturity.
“The un-creative mind can spot wrong answers, but it takes a very creative mind to spot wrong questions.” – Antony Jay
Questions to ask yourself often….
Who has the right to tell me when I’m wrong?
When is the last time I let them tell me the truth?
If I don’t have that person, why not?
Are my recent, dominant thoughts true?
Are they helpful?
Are they bringing me closer to the person I want to be?
If not, what true & helpful thoughts should I choose?
Questions that bring clarity with others…..
Is there a reason you said, did, want, etc……?
Can you help me to understand……?
Could you give me an example of…..?
Questions after you read an article like this….
Is there an action I need to take?
Is there a truth I need to accept?
Is there a direction I need to pray?
If you have any further thoughts or you have some “go to” healthy questions of your own, please share below!