Tag Archives: questions

Great Questions

Part of what I do for a living is to help people ask better questions. There’s two main types of questions: open ended and closed ended. The closed ended questions solicit a one or two word answer. The open ended ones require them to think and gets them talking. Most people tend to ask closed ended questions and it’s hard to break them of it. My challenge is to get people to stop asking questions that begin with verbs and to change them to begin with who, what, why or how. These questions begin a conversation.

When I look at the question Jesus asked throughout the Gospels, He was masterful with open ended questions. “Why do you worry about what tomorrow will bring? Who do people say that I am? What good is it if a man gains the whole world and loses his own soul? My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” He asked very few closed ended questions. I like to think that it’s because He was truly interested to hear what people had to say. He already knew what was in their heart.

Asking the right questions makes all the difference in the world when you’re reaching someone. The Pharisees constantly came at Jesus with questions intended to trap Him. Jesus typically responded with questions to help them see how narrow minded they were. Questions are very powerful when used the right way. They can help you see things differently, open your eyes to problems and change your course. The right question opens doors.

In the 90’s, Dodge ran a series of commercials that said, “We questioned everything.” In the end, they changed their body style, created the “cab forward design” and catapulted their sales. By asking the right questions, they changed the trajectory of their business. When we learn to ask the right questions in our lives, we will also be able to change the trajectory. There are certain questions to help with that. My two favorite are “how” questions and “why” questions.

The “how” questions help me think through the process of what I want to accomplish. How can I show the love of Christ to others better than I am? How can I accomplish more for the Kingdom of God? These are questions that help me think through things. The questions I often forget to ask are “why” questions. These are the most important. These tell me the driving force behind what I’m doing. They give the desire to accomplish the how. Why do I need to show the love of Christ to others? What happens if I don’t?

If we get so focused on the how or how we’ve always done things, we will get burned out because we will lose our passion. Asking ourselves why will keep us motivated to do the work of the Kingdom. The how has to change over time, but the why remains constant. I’m always looking for better ways to serve others and to show His love, but why I do it stays the same: that none may perish. Spend time today asking yourself why questions and how questions. You’ll find fresh ways to do things as well as reconnect with your passion.

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A Deeper Answer

Yesterday at work I asked a question to a group of people. A lady answered, but it was only a surface level answer. I prodded her for more to think about what I was asking. I asked her to give me a deeper answer. She sat there with a blank stare for a minute. I offered the question in a different way, but still letting her know I was expecting her to answer. She gave me a “What are you doing” look. I explained, “I’m asking for more from you because what we’re currently doing is not working. If we are to change our results, we have to change how we think and approach the problem.”

I’m kind of in that place right now where God is asking for more from me. I’m the one sitting on the other side of the table with that blank stare saying, “What do you mean ‘more’?” It’s uncomfortable to sit here and not have the answer. To know that somewhere inside me lies the answer and not know how to get it can be disturbing. Knowing that God is waiting makes the situation even more intense.

I wonder if that’s how Peter felt when they were sitting on the shore of Galilee and Jesus asked him, “Do you love me?” Peter answered, “Yes. You know that I love you.” Jesus responded, “Feed my sheep.” He turned around and asked Peter the same question. I imagine Peter sitting there thinking, “Is He joking? Is this déjà vu?” He amused Jesus by answering a second time exactly as he had the first. Jesus wasn’t content with that. He wanted more. “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that He asked him a third time, and again said yes.

There have been many sermons regarding this and I’m not about to preach another one to you. I just want to stop and look at the emotions of what was happening. Jesus was pushing Peter beyond a surface level love. He was ensuring Peter knew in His heart that he loved Jesus because He was about to ask for more. What Peter had done in the past was not going to be good enough for what he was going to do in the future.

If you skip down a couple of verses to John 21:19, Jesus did something I hadn’t noticed. He again called Peter to follow Him. Peter had been called three years earlier to follow Jesus, but this call was different. This “follow me” was into a deeper relationship. One where Peter would be given the responsibility of raising up the early church and leading thousands to Christ. The dynamic of their relationship just changed in that exchange.

That’s where I am right now. Where are you? What is God asking of you? Are you giving Him a surface level answer when He is calling for a deeper more meaningful answer? Are you scared of what “more” means? Me too, but I won’t let that fear keep me from answering His call. I won’t continue to give the answer I’ve always given. I don’t know the answer yet, but I’m willing to follow Him into that deeper commitment until I do.

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The “Why”

I’m the type of person who likes to know the “why” behind a task before I do it. It drives my wife crazy. Even yesterday she asked me, “Why can’t you just do what I asked without knowing why?” I like knowing the intention, purpose and final outcome before I do something so I know its importance and how to prioritize my time and effort towards it. It wouldn’t be bad if it were just a couple of things, but that thinking bleeds into every task including those God asks me to do.

I’m sure that He, like my wife, gets frustrated with me. Even when God asks me to do something, I still like to know the “why” and the final outcome. What I’ve found is that more often than not, God doesn’t give me those. He expects me to trust Him blindly and to do what He asked without question. That is tough for me because it goes against my very nature.

When I look at the Heroes of Faith in Scripture, I see men and women who trusted and followed God without knowing the “why” behind everything. When God said, “Go”, they went. When God said, “Speak”, they spoke. A couple of them might have argued because they didn’t want to do it, but they really didn’t ask why. They knew that when God asks for something, you do it. You don’t argue with the details. He knows them and will give them to you when you need them.

That’s what faith is. Doing what you’re asked to do without knowing why or what the outcome will be. If God shared with us the “why” and what the end result would be, we wouldn’t be acting in faith, we’d be acting on knowledge. God didn’t call us to walk by knowledge. He called us to walk by faith. He knows that when we know the outcome, we will try to do things in our own strength to affect the outcome to what we think He wants.

Look at Abraham. When God told him that he would have a son and that all nations would be blessed through his descendants, he took matters into his own hands. His “knowledge” said that his wife couldn’t have kids and so God must have meant to have a kid through her maid. Had he walked by faith, he would have trusted God to do what He said and had a kid with his wife. That mistake cost him 14 years before he saw the promise fulfilled in Isaac.

I don’t want my need to know the “why” to cost me years of wandering when I could be enjoying the blessings of obedience instead. I want to trust God without knowing the final outcome. I’ve got a long way to go in that area before I’m there. Until that time, I will take the small steps and trust His direction without knowing the “why’s” until my faith is strong enough to take the giant steps He wants me to take. I don’t want to hear God ask me like my wife did, “Why can’t you just do what I asked without knowing why?” I would rather hear Him say, “Thanks for obeying. Here’s what happened because you did…”

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Lessons From Joseph

I have always been intrigued with Joseph. In the story of Jesus’ birth, Mary is the one who always gets the attention. I’m not saying she shouldn’t. I’m saying that I think Joseph needs some attention too. Just so you know, I’m also the guy who doesn’t stand and look at the bride in a wedding either. When I hear the notes on the organ and all rise and turn to the back of the auditorium, I turn and face the front. I love the look on a guy’s face as his wife comes out of hiding and he sees her for the first time in her dress. I identify with him because I’ve been there. There’s no feeling like it.

Maybe that’s why I’m concerned with Joseph. As a guy, husband and father, I identify with him. Since I can identify with him, it makes me impressed with what he did. We know that Mary was highly favored among women, but I think Joseph must have been highly favored among men. It took someone special to do what he was asked to do which is to be an earthly father to the Messiah. It was on him to raise a baby into a boy, a boy into a teen and teen into a man.

You know what kind of a person Joseph is right away when you first read about him in Matthew 1. The first thing you know is that his genealogy places him in the tribe of Judah and in the royal family line of King David. The Bible lists out the 28 generations from Abraham to Joseph. God couldn’t just use anyone to be the father of Jesus, he had to be from that tribe and in that lineage according to prophecy. He also had to be devout, willing and obedient.

When Mary told Joseph that she was pregnant, he knew that he was not the father. His reaction impresses me. He decided he wouldn’t marry her, that he’d keep it quiet and let her go into hiding since that was a crime punishable by stoning. If it was me and my fiancé told me she was pregnant, I would have been the first one with a stone in my hand. Joseph wasn’t like that though. Even though he must have been hurt and obviously disbelieving in her story, he decided to show kindness.

God had sent an angel to speak to Mary about the baby, now He sent one to Joseph. Once the angel spoke to Joseph, he believed and kept Mary as his fiancé. Not only that, but he married her and then did not have marital relations with her until after Jesus was born. What?!? They were married for months before he consummated their wedding vows. That’s a stronger man than me.

What he does next is even more impressive. God woke him up in the middle of the night and told him to take his family and flee to Egypt. Without hesitation, they packed up and left. He had already been displaced from his home in Nazareth because of the census, now he had to flee his home in Bethlehem. Through two other dreams Joseph was obedient to what God said in order to protect Jesus. He was a true father to Jesus by putting His safety above his own.

I think there is a lot we can learn from Joseph. Although the Bible doesn’t give us much more than this about him, we can see that God chose the right man for the right job. I think He still chooses the right people to fulfill His purposes. Each of us has been called to do something in particular for Him. He’s needing us to be devout, willing and obedient as Joseph was. So what has He asked you to do? Are you being willing and obedient to do it while remaining devout to Him even when it doesn’t make sense?

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God’s Questions

In my job, I not only get to teach people how to ask questions, I get to ask them. There are different ways to ask the same question in order to get a more complete response. After I have given information to a group of people, I use questions to check their knowledge of the content that I presented. I often ask open questions and pose them to the entire group. I see who is paying attention and who gets it by doing that. I also ask direct questions to individuals in order to engage them in the conversation.

I’ve noticed that God does that too. He often asks questions that are open to all of us and other times He asks us directly. In Isaiah 6:8, God asks the questions, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” Isaiah was standing right there. I can see him raising his hand, bouncing on his tippy toes and wiggled his fingers saying, “Ooooh. Ooooh. Pick me! Pick me!” I wonder if he knew what he was getting into. I wonder if any of us really know what we’re getting into when we volunteer for God.

There are other times when God asks very direct questions of us. Jesus did this to Peter. He asked him, “Peter, do you love me?” I can see Peter a little stunned by the question. His eyebrows furrowed, head tilted to the side and saying, “Uh, Lord, you know I do.” Then Jesus told him, “Feed my sheep.” I’m sure you know Jesus asked him two more times if he loved him. Peter got a little upset at Jesus for His persistence in asking a question He knew the answer to over and over. When God does that, it’s for our benefit, not His.

He often asks things of us to see what our response will be. It’s not that He doesn’t know what our response will be. It’s that He wants us to be sure in our purpose. What I’ve found is that when God asks us a question, action on our part is required beyond our answer. When Isaiah answered, he had to go deliver God’s message Israel. When Peter answered that he loved Jesus, he was then given the command to feed God’s sheep.

Whenever God asks a question of you, know that He is looking for a commitment beyond your answer. Answering is the easy part. Following through becomes something more difficult. You’ll have to make changes to your life, sacrifices to your schedule and give of yourself to someone else. God is looking for us to serve others for Him. We are to be His hands, His feet and His voice to show and to speak His love to those who need it.

I think God asks that same question to us that Jesus asked to Peter. “Do you love me? Then feed my sheep.” If we love Him, we will find ways to feed others both physically and spiritually. He also asks, “Who can I send? Who will go?” While many of us love Him, not all of us are ready to say, “Here am I, send me.” Faith requires action on our part. James 2:17 says, “Faith, if it does not have works (deeds and actions of obedience to back it up), by itself is destitute of power (inoperative, dead).”

So what is God asking you right now? What will you need to do beyond what He is asking? Are you willing to make the changes and sacrifices required? The men and women in the Bible who followed through after God asked them a question were blessed beyond measure. I believe you and I will be too if we respond in obedience with action.

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