Tag: Questions

Who asks you the tough questions?

What’s your greatest challenge?
How are you handling that conflict?
What keeps you up at night?
How’s your marriage?
What do you sense God doing in your life right now?

You could probably add a thousand more like these. When it comes to tough questions, you stop and ask, who asks me questions like these and do I ask people around me the same types?

Creating space for deeper conversation allows you to see God at work in the larger issues. For some of us, we live life swayed by the vapor of urgent matters. For others, our minds run through these questions without answering because no one asks them of us.

When I hear people share where they want to grow spiritually, they tend to list off reading the Bible, praying, serving, and other disciplines. Taking a next a step of growth is extremely valuable; but if you want to take your spiritual growth to the next level, it requires you to share with the people closest to you what you sense God doing in you.

Let me ask you – Who asks you the tough questions? Who in your life can help you see beyond the immediacy of today to the long term important issues? Or who has permission to ask questions to draw out what consumes your mind?

People asking us the tough questions invite us to see God at work. The Gospel, the Good News of Jesus’ death and resurrection, invites us to these conversations. These conversations allow us to see the truth of our own brokenness and the grace of God’s love for us. God speaks through the people in our lives asking the tough questions.

Photo produced by Cole Hutson

The Question Behind the Question

Questions rarely come out of nowhere. Think of when your child asked a deep or meaningful question about life. Perhaps, a friend sitting with you at coffee paused and then reluctantly posed one to you. You might have received a text message that you could not respond to another text.

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You might have heard it said, “Don’t answer my question with a question.” True, this adage makes sense for direct and “yes” or “no” questions. At other times, a question is an invitation to a significant aspect of another’s life. When we answer too quickly, we can run the risk of not understanding.

The most meaningful questions people ask result from a deeper place and even hours of processing it in their mind. They might have a story to tell. Maybe, they care far less about your answer and just want you to listen. To immediately reply, misses the “why” of the ask in the first place.

So the next time someone asks you a deeper question, here’s a few steps to understand what might lie behind it:

1. Pause

Sometimes, we talk too soon. Let the silence settle. Take the time to digest what the person has asked of you. They might even have more to say. You could miss that if you immediately talk.

2. Affirm

Consider when you ask a significant question. It requires courage and authenticity. Identify those characteristics in others. Value their journey and process, then share what you affirm in them.

3. Understand

Don’t miss the opportunity. Just ask them, “Can you help me understand what’s behind that question?” Let them tell you more. Providing the space of listening allows them to process and for you to have context.

4. Respond

Not every question needs an answer. Often, we find people need space to share. Consider what they have said to you and offer perspective. If you don’t have a answer, don’t offer one. On the other hand, if you have insight look to connect with them.

It’s a gift when someone asks you a meaningful question. Let’s not miss the opportunity to build the relationship. Discover the question behind the question.

Photo credit by Vadim Sherbakov.

Reads of the Week | 11/07/2015

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These five reads from this past week challenged, encouraged, and provided perspective for me. Check them out for yourself.

Leaders Who Can See and Hear Others by Jill Berkowicz and Ann Myers

This article shares the valuable perspective of observant leadership. Successful leaders learn how to listen and see from other people’s perspective.

Dorms for Grownups: A Solution for Lonely Millenials by Alana Semuels

Troy Evans of Syracuse, NY has started to pilot shared space apartments. This fascinating concept infuses our discussions about experiencing community together.

5 Mistakes You’re Making on Instagram by AJ Agrawal

Five insightful pieces of wisdom to help you post to Instagram. A list for all of us to keep in mind.

Why I’m a Pastor Who Stopped Giving Answers by Tom Hughes

Listen to what Tom Hughes points out about Jesus in the Bible:

Throughout the four Gospels in the Bible, Jesus was asked 183 questions. Of those 183 questions, how many do you think he answered directly? Four. He responded to the other 179 questions sometimes with a story, sometimes with an action, but most often with another question.

Perhaps, Jesus’ mode of teaching will help us connect better with each other.

How Suffering Saved my Faith by Shannon Evans

Evans provides a practical view of seeing suffering. She speaks of the process of removing some wrong assumptions about God in the midst of suffering in our lives.

What were your reads of the week? Share the links in the comment section below.

Photo credit to Mikhail Pavstyuk.

Removing “Should” from Our Vocabulary

My wife Robyn and I will celebrate two years of marriage on October 20th. She exudes a great deal of patience, graciousness, and wisdom. I’ll never forget a piece of advice she gave to me. In the midst of a conversation, she said to me, “I think you might want to consider removing ‘should’ from your vocabulary.”

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One word can make a drastic difference in our conversation. She began to indicate to me what a person hears when we tell them, “You should…”

Should implies authority in a moment when a person seeks your understanding.
Should oversimplifies a difficult issue.
Should can accidently or purposely question a person’s intelligence.
Should comes across more about me than you.
Should can rob people of discovering a solution on their own.

Honestly, I still struggle using the word should. Sometimes in our exuberance to help people, we can miss how we come across to them. Removing this word invites us see conversations with others in a different light; removing the focus off of ourselves and giving them the opportunity to process.

Instead of using “should” in our vocabulary, here are four alternatives:

1. Ask Questions

You have the opportunity to help a person discover how they can grow. Questions, focused more on quality than quantity, invite a person to a different perspective. The best questions include Who, What, When, Where and How. At times, Why can carry negative connotations. That might be another post.

Some questions you can consider; What do you think is your next step? When did you start thinking about this? How can grow from this?

2. Share an Experience to Identify Not to Give Advice

Sharing experiences usually result in using the word “should.” Your experiences can identify with another person. Instead of giving advice, you can share what you thought and how you felt. Experiences say, “Me too…”

3. Partner

Look for ways you can join them in finding a solution. It might look like going to the gym with them. You could attend an event with them. They could rehearse a conversation with you. Partnering walks alongside a person.

4. Model

Modeling takes place in the consistency of relationship. Rather than saying “should” live out what you say.

What alternatives to using the word “should” would you add?

Photo Credit Sarah Babineau in Life of Pix.

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