Do you ever feel like a discussion just got away from you? I do sometimes. I find times when I’m having a conversation with someone this feeling comes over me that we are simply two people having competing monologues. That is NOT a good thing. Sadly, most communication I witness happens that way. Granted, I deal with rather touchy subject matter, faith. Faith is one of those areas of life that the majority of it is experienced, felt, and lived. In the Christian faith there are some absolutes that everyone who aligns themselves with Christ must believe. But that list is much smaller than most of us would tend to make it.
1 Corinthians 15:3-8 is much simpler than I would explain it, but that is the foundation of the Christian faith. So much of what we hold near and dear to our hearts is our preference, tied so intrinsically to our history, that we cannot tell where our preferences end and objective truth begins. The only way to do this is by asking really, really, really good questions.
Good questions transform us. Questions take us out of the role of expert and put us squarely in the role of learner. If you are ever going to grow you need to move from expert to learner. Experts espouse, learners listen. Experts give away what they have while learners gather. That’s a simplistic view, I know, but most people who are functioning as experts are more prone to speak than to listen.
The problem with good questions is that they are elusive. Even in our questioning, we seek to have our positions strengthened rather than our horizons expanded. We’ve all seen the most obvious form of this in the political arena. The question will go something like, “Isn’t it true that you hate this group of people so you took away a program that served them?” We all know those are not good questions, but they are the easiest to think of and ask.
Harder questions, aka Good Questions, are those that don’t have easy answers, help us see other perspectives, and expand our learning. Good questions clarify the issue and bring mutual understanding. Good questions don’t necessarily bring agreement, but they can. Good questions help us understand others, even if we wholeheartedly disagree with them.
I think the greatest benefit of good questions is that it humanizes the person you are having the discussion with. When you view people as ideas, stereotypes, or even arguments to be won love does not apply. You don’t have to love arguments, ideas, and caricatures. You do, however, have to love people. Asking good questions is just another way you can show love. And isn’t that the basic tenet of of the Christian faith? Galatians 5:14 ( For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” NIV)
Ask good questions, love people well…