Why Great Questions? Connect, Learn, Teach

One of the all time classic child-hood games is Hide and Seek or for younger kids, we sometimes have a different form of the game with an Easter egg hunt.

Why do we enjoy hide and seek?  Proverbs 25:2 says “it is the glory of God to conceal a matter and it is the glory of kings to search it out.”   Why would God hide or conceal something from us?  Why wouldn’t He just put all things out in plain view for all to see?

When you have something of great meaning or value to you, it is kept secure and shared with those who also value and honor it for what it is worth.

The quickest way to ruin a good egg hunt is to either leave the eggs in plain site or to run ahead of a child and find the egg first and just handing them the egg!   How dull would life be if there wasn’t anything to discover, treasures to be found or the joy of exploring?

This same principle applies to great questions!   Questions are about exploration and discovery and, on the flip side, when we discover the answer there is a sense of ownership and value for what we discovered.

Discovery and Connection

Questions are one of the greatest tools to building relationship and connection.   How so?

  • Questions show interest and concern for someone.
  • Questions show a desire to learn or be in someone else’s world.
  • Questions communicate value and honor.  When we don’t ever ask what someone thinks or feels we are sub-consciously communicating that we don’t value their thoughts, feelings or input.
  • How do you get to know someone? A romantic interest?   In the early stages of an important relationship, you probably spent time asking each other questions about their thoughts and perspectives.  We are learning about that person because we want to know them more.
  • Questions and asking provide places of vulnerability to grow in relationship by giving and receiving of information or things.

Relationships are not built by dictating information or commands.  If I don’t know how to ask questions I will be hindered in my ability to build and grow in relationships.

Learning and Teaching

Not only are great questions a way to grown in connection, they are one of the most effective ways to learn but also to teach!

Consider this.  God knows every answer yet still asks many questions.

  • “Adam, where are you?”  Genesis 3
  • “Ezekiel, can these bones live?” Ezekiel 37
  • “What is your name?”  to Jacob in Genesis 32
  • “Job, where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations?”  Job 38
  • “Who do you say I am?”  Jesus to His disciples in Matthew 16
  • “Peter, do you love me?” John 21

Why does the only One with all the answers ask questions?  Why doesn’t He just show up and tell us answers instead of ask questions?

I’m sure there are other reasons, but one reason of the main reasons is discovery.  Discovery is important because it leads to ownership.  If someone tells me a truth, I may remember or value it but if I somehow find, uncover and discover it like a hidden treasure it has a much greater value and impact than giving information in a lecture.  I found it like an Easter egg and a light bulb goes off because it was something discovered!

Why ask Job where he was instead of just tell him that he was no where to be found?   Why would Jesus ask the disciples who they say He is instead of just tell them He was the Messiah?  Because the more important need in the moment was not what God said, but what they believed.  John 16 says that one of the things the Holy Spirit does is to lead us to the truth.  He doesn’t tell us, or inject us with it, He leads us to it so we can choose it or reject it.

Here are some things to consider:

  • God never asks questions to learn, He always asks to reveal or teach.
  • God uses questions to bring our attention to something we didn’t see or need to consider.
  • God loves when we experience the joy and wonder of discovery!
  • Finders keepers!  When teaching others, it is more effective to set someone up for discovery than to just reveal it.
  • Questions create opportunity for someone to decide if they value the answer and whether they want to pursue it or walk away.
  • God honors us by asking our thoughts and input.   He gives us value, honor and dignity by inviting us into a conversation instead of just telling us all the answers.
  • God asks questions because He is humble, meek and not proud (Matthew 11:29).
  • God tells us to ask and make requests for things He already knows we need in order to practice a child-like relationship of discovery, dependence, provision and showing the world we have a loving, invisible Father that is very present and active in our lives through faith!

Questions In Context Of Groups and Leadership:

Leadership at its best is influencing people to grow beyond where they are to be or accomplish more than they could have on their own.  We have all been in a place where those in authority have just given commands or answers.  Those environments can be very effective to a point in terms of productivity but they are not very conducive for people to be empowered and grow personally, professionally or spiritually.

Great teams always out-produce great individuals and great teams are not possible in an environment void of great questions.

In the context of groups and teams:

  • Questions give honor and value to team members by getting feedback and input.
  • Questions and good response to feedback greatly increases the sense of ownership people have for mission and productivity of the team or organization.
  • Great questions make for great discussions and the mutual sharing actually provides a place of encouragement, hope, and a form of nourishment to our soul because we are working together toward a common goal for the benefit of those on the team and beyond.
  • Great leaders set the table and provide a place to discover without actually doing the work for people.
  • Great questions actually lead people to take responsibility and initiative.

Do you want to grow and strengthen connection in your relationships?   Do you want to grow in your ability to effectively learn and teach?   Practice asking better questions and see what happens!

Practical Tips:

  • Start with a more general question that breaks the ice and save questions that are more personal or close to home for later in the discussion.
  • Avoid ‘yes’ or ‘no’ or  follow up a yes or no with a deeper question like “why is that?”
  • Gold medal questions: “What do you think about that?” or “How do you feel about that and why?”  Easy immediate way to get them processing and show value for their input.
  • Don’t be afraid of silence and waiting for a response.  Some people take longer to process their response and it is most likely worth the wait.
  • Ask them to brainstorm some different ways to see the solution or possibilities.
  • Ask if them if they have had any experience in the past with the matter at hand.
  • Ask if they feel they handled it well or what they would do differently?
  • Ask them what advice they would give to someone in this scenario or situation.

Additional Resources:

  1. The 10 Best Blogs About Corporate Team Building
  2. The Top 10 Questions From God
  3. Video – TED Talk: The Art of Asking Questions

Go Deeper with some  coffee or a group. .. .

  1. What is something that you really wanted to find, figure out or discover that you made an effort to learn about, find or grow in?   What was it about that thing or insight that caused you to pursue greater insight, skill or ability?
  2. On a scale of 1-10 how would you rate yourself in your question-asking abilities?  Why?
  3. Have you ever known someone who was good at asking questions?  How did it affect your relationship?
  4. Have you ever been in a place where someone did all the talking and didn’t ask questions or make room for discussion or discovery?   How did it make you feel and why?
  5. Can you think of a time you discovered a truth or insight and how was that different than when someone just told you the information?
  6. Have you ever experienced a work environment or a group environment that incorporated great questions or feedback?  How did it affect the team, atmosphere or attitude of the group and why?

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2 Comments

  1. This is a awesome topic. One of the great things about working for the Japanese is there ability to find root causes thru a line of questioning. They use things like the 5 why’s and when doing an in depth study of chronic issues they use a procedure called root cause analysis. I have tried to apply these to my on life to get down to root causes for bad habits and knee jerk responses that are deep ingrained in me and I don’t care for them. It has opened my eyes to a few things and causes me to unveil and shed light on some dark places that I did not realize where there. The cool thing about these are they are only looking for facts nothing personal they just show the facts. Great discussion.

    Like

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