In school, I learned that it was the smart kids in the class that had all the answers – at least that’s what it looked like. The students who put up their hands and answered the teacher’s questions seemed to be given a higher status. Raising your hand to ask a question wasn’t always viewed as the brightest thing to do.
My thinking about that has changed. More and more, I am coming to realize how important it is to ask the right question. By asking profound questions, you can unlock information and insight needed in any situation. It helps to solve problems and analyze situations. It can give you an opportunity to find a new way forward when feeling stuck in a situation. A good question gives you permission to think and wrestle with the real problem you are facing. Good questions can spark a great conversation or cause deep reflection and thoughtfulness.
I’ve discovered that, for many of us, asking the right question is a matter of developing that skill. Some people seem by nature to be ‘question-askers’. They know how to initiate a conversation and learn about people from just asking and then listening. Others among us have to work hard at it, but since it is a skill, it is something we can improve at.
It’s tempting to think of the Bible as a book of answers. But have you ever noticed how many questions God asks? Throughout the Bible, God used good questions to probe and examine his people, to get them to reflect on their behavior and grow in their understanding. Think about that – the God who knows the answer to everything asks questions!
To Adam and Eve who had sinned and were hiding, he asked, “Where are you? What have you done?” To Cain who had murdered his brother, he asked, “Why are you angry?” Elijah was exhausted from battling false gods and was on the run for his life. He was hiding in a cave when God questioned him: “What are you doing here?” To an abused and frightened single mother, he tenderly inquired, “What troubles you, Hagar?”
As Jesus began to call his first disciples, a crowd followed him. He turned and asked “What are you looking for?” Later in his ministry, after he had done many miracles and taught the multitudes, he asked his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?”
Sometimes, asking a great question is the wisest thing we can do. I’m working on asking better questions – questions of myself and of those around me. I’m also learning to wait and listen for the answer. It’s amazing what you find out when you do that.
Let me leave you with a question I’ve been asking of myself lately: “What one change in me would most please my Father in heaven?” The answer may surprise you.