Asking the right questions
In a 2015 Ted Talk, radio host Celeste Headlee suggests ten ways to have a better conversation. One stuck out to me, and I’ve been working on it over the last several months since hearing her suggestions: don’t ask yes or no questions. Instead, try to ask who, what, when, where, why, and how questions. This might sound simple, but I have found it constructive.
Obviously, there are times when you just can’t beat the convenience of a yes or no question to check in. Your friend gives you a certain look, and you simply ask, “Are you alright?” An honest yes suffices, and you move on. At other times, though, taking the time and making the space for deeper conversation can be stunning.
This made me wonder: do these kinds of questions show up on Jesus’ lips, or God’s? It turns out they do. So, here’s my own top ten list of questions God and Jesus point right at our hearts, in no particular order. If I were you, I’d consider taking the time to read them slowly and let them marinate a bit. You might even pick one as you go to spend some extra time with. Here they are:
- “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” (Matt 12:48, Jesus)
- “Who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15, Jesus)
- “Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3, Jesus)
- “What are you seeking?” (John 1:38, Jesus)
- “With what can we compare the Kingdom of God?” (Mark 4:30, Jesus)
- “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9, God)
- “Where is your brother, Abel?” (Genesis 4:9, God)
- “What troubles you, Hagar?” (Genesis 21:17, angel of the Lord)
- “What do you mean by crushing my people, by grinding the face of the poor?” (Isaiah 3:15, the word of the Lord)
- “Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?” (Isaiah 55:2, the word of the Lord)
I suppose it shouldn’t surprise us that our Lord is such a master of questions. While some of these may seem accusatory, my sense is that each of these is one of God’s clever ways to invite us into deeper conversation and relationship. If any of these questions seem out of left field to you, you might pick up your Bible, and discover them in context. I find them totally piercing with respect to my own soul. As we create space for better conversation with others, may we also enter humbly into some conversation with our Lord, perhaps by taking any one of these ten questions to heart.