I want to be good at asking questions.
It doesn’t take spending much time with me to learn that conversation is important to me. Whether it is with someone I have just met or someone I have known for years, I desire good conversation, and in every conversation I want to ask good questions. Maybe it is the counselor side of me that loves good questions, but in an ultimate sense I think it is because God made us to know people and every conversation is an opportunity to get to know people better. Therefore there is value in asking good questions.
I understand that some people might think, “that is an extrovert thing” or “okay, that isn’t me, so let me click on another article.” Since not everyone is an extrovert that loves question-asking or answering questions, let me give you four reasons why we should all strive to ask good questions:
1. Ask good questions because people are worth getting to know
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” –Genesis 1:27
Throughout Scripture we see the value that God places on people, on actual people, people that are sinful yet made in the image of God, and when God gave us scripture he did it by telling us the stories of people. Think of it. The Bible isn’t primarily about people’s stories, rather it is about the story of redemption. But the story of redemption is woven together using the stories of God’s people. Can you imagine how different the Bible would be if it did not include stories about people? Can you grasp how lacking our understanding of man and God would be without the stories of God’s people? Apparently God thinks people are awesome, because he made them, he sent his son to die for them, and he tells their stories. Therefore, we too should think people are awesome and conclude that they are worth getting to know. And how do we get to know people? By asking good questions.
2. Asking good questions is a way to love others
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” –John 15:12
Can we really love people if we don’t know them? We can like people from the moment we meet them, but we can only really love people to the degree to which we know them. Now, some might point out that sometimes knowing people more means that it is a bit harder to love them, and yes that can be true. That’s because people aren’t perfect. People are broken, they are sinful, they are messy and so they aren’t always easy.
What is amazing about Jesus’ love for his disciples is that he knew them completely and he loved them perfectly even though they weren’t perfect or easy. Tim Keller says that man’s greatest fear is being known and not loved. That fear can drive us to put up defenses, or to keep people out, because not being known might be better than someone getting to know us and not loving what they find.
Yet, that is why relationships offer such an opportunity for us to impress gospel truth upon one another’s hearts. In relationships we have the opportunity to say to each other, “yes, even though I know you and therefore know your faults and your sins, I still love you.” It is there that people feel really loved. So with every good question that helps you get to know people you are in essence saying I love you and I want to both know and love you more.
3. Asking good questions provides opportunities to love others in the future.
“Bear one another’s burdens…” –Galatians 6:2a
Where do people turn with their burdens? Where do they go when things fall apart? They turn to the things that they trust, the things that they think can care for and comfort them. As Christians with solid relationships we are called to turn to those who know us and love us. So with each good question, which helps us to know and love others, you open doors to love people in the future by being someone they can turn to with their burdens.
And with each good question we also become better prepared for the day when they do turn to us. When a friend or loved one turns to you, will you know how best to bear their burden? Will you know how to give them what they need without them even telling you? You will know because you know them. So, every good question prepares us to be able to love that person in the future.
4. Asking good questions glorifies God
“…and so fulfull the law of Christ.” –Galatians 6:2b
Seeing as how asking good questions allows and equips us to know people, to love people and to bear their burdens then it is a valid conclusion that asking good questions glorifies God. Although we often wish that relationships developed in a “just add water” sort of way, they don’t. Relationships are built through the slow work of knowing and loving, and those goals are obtained through asking good questions. And with every question that we ask intending to know and love others, God is glorified. So, glorify God by asking good questions.
Ask Questions that Get to the Heart
“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” –Proverbs 4:23
The bible doesn’t just view the heart as a vital organ, but rather as the very center of a person. It is in the heart that you are able to discern what people really feel, believe, fear, celebrate, grieve, take comfort in. Good questions help you break through the surface and get to the heart.
Now, I will say that often the minute you break through the shiny veneer that people hold up there is the thought that maybe I shouldn’t have done that! Maybe I should have stayed on the surface! But listen, love doesn’t stay on the surface. It goes deeper. I am not saying that surface things don’t matter, but I am saying if you are only comfortable on the surface (asking surface level questions or giving surface level answers) then you are missing out. We were made to know and be known, we were made for deep and good relationships built on knowledge and love, both of which are aided by asking good questions.
I hope that this, Part 1, on good questions has helped convince you that we all should want to ask good questions. Part 2 (which will be posted later) will cover a more practical look at what makes a good question and how can we become better question-askers. In the meantime, determine how you are doing as a question asker by asking yourself these questions:
(After all that talk about good questions there is a lot of pressure on these to be good. Oh well, just ponder this and see where it takes you.)
- In conversations, do you generally talk or listen more? What does that say about how you view yourself and others?
- Do good questions (deeper, heart level questions) make you feel loved or intimidated?
- Who would you say is great at asking good questions? How would you describe your experience in interacting with them?