Leveraging the Power of Great Questions

I have spent a lot of time the last few days in one-on-one interviews with a staff leadership team.  I have been consulting with this church for the last couple of years and have seen a lot of these staff members in the hallway.  We have exchanged the expected cordial greetings. I have been in ministry meetings with some of them.  But I didn’t actually know them.

These last few days have given me the chance to hear their story in their own words.  To learn about their families, how they came to Christ, their journey into ministry, and their life-shaping events.  We also spent time talking about their ministry area and the teams they lead.

I love sitting across the table in an unhurried conversation with dedicated staff members like these.  Having these conversations is like mining for gold — and the way you get to the gold is by asking good questions.  Think of how often Jesus used questions to dig into a person’s life!

Even more important than a good question is a good FOLLOW UP question. It is often in the 2nd or 3rd follow up question that you can discover the gold nugget of insight.

Tell me more about how you…
What did that feel like?
What was going through your mind when that happened?
How does that connect to what you said earlier…
How did that decision impact other areas of your life?
Have you experienced anything like that before?

Often when those of us in ministry ask people questions, they give us safe answers or the answer they think we want to hear.  But if we will slow down long enough to fully engage the conversation… to really listen… and ask good questions, we might be amazed at what we will discover.

I have a good friend who is a master at this.  I always walk away from our conversations feeling cared for and valued. Why?  Because asking good questions requires him to be unselfish toward me.  It demands your undivided attention and centers your full focus on the other person.  Asking good questions says “I am interested in you… I am listening to everything you say… I am fully here with you… I want to get to know more of you than what is on the surface”.

So, let me ask you a QUESTION.   Do you need to start learning the “art” of asking good questions?  Focus on this practice in the coming week.  When you have the chance to have a conversation…

  1. Slow down — Stay present and fully engaged.
  2. REALLY listen — Give the person your undivided attention.
  3. Follow-up — Ask at least 2 follow-up questions.