And since He always taught and led by example, I suppose we should too. It sounds easy enough, but carrying conversations by asking questions is a discipline that requires intentionality and focus. And, it’s hard to do consistently.
Consider Luke 24 and the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus – when he joined them, he asked them two questions – “Why are you sad?” and, “What things?” Obviously Jesus knew what was in their hearts and why they were despondent on their trip home. But he drew them out by asking questions.
Why are we so resistant to this masterful way of engaging people? That’s a great question. I think it may be because we are much more interested in being heard than we are in hearing. We think we can have more influence by insuring that our point gets across, rather than understanding the other person in the conversation.
Recently I met the great Christian apologist, John Lennox. I noticed how engaging he was with each person in the room and how genuinely interested he seemed to be in all that was happening with everyone else. We were there to meet and hear him, yet he was much more interested in knowing something about us.
So, I asked him a question – “How do you translate the wealth of information you possess into everyday, ordinary conversation?”
His answer was a great lesson for me. He said, “I ask questions.” He went on to explain; “As a matter of fact, I make it a practice that whenever I meet someone, I ask questions of him or her until they ask me one. I find it to be a much better way of connecting with people.”
Jesus asked questions. John Lennox does too. As a matter of fact, after thinking about it, I’ve begun to believe that the people I most admire and respect for their influence all seem to practice this discipline.
Do you want to have influence? Ask questions. Don’t spend all of your energy being heard – but on hearing. Express more interest in others than self.
Isn’t this a way we can be more like Jesus?
Mike Harland is the Director of LifeWay Worship. When he’s not directing 30+ employees, you’ll find him leading worship at various churches around the country, writing/arranging worship songs and/or, writing his next book. In his spare time, he loves playing basketball and spending time with his family. Mike can be found on Twitter @MikeHarlandLW and on facebook.com/Mike.Harland.37.