A Question I Won’t Forget

A Question I Won’t Forget

I was new in my faith and new to university. I began attending a great church and after a Sunday service one of the leaders asked me to coffee. I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into, but I respected him and he said he was buying. 

I don’t remember many details of the conversation, but I do vividly remember being asked this powerful question; “Steve, are you a university student who happens to be a Christian or are you a Christian who happens to be a university student?” In other words, this leader was asking me what was central to my identity and purpose – and what wasn’t.

This question stopped me in my tracks. It’s a question I won’t forget. It consumed my thinking long after I had returned to my dorm. I wrestled with my answer. Like all great questions, it inspired deep reflection. It helped me clarify my values and determine my priorities. It also encouraged me to seek out and listen to God.

Great questions are an essential tool for leaders. As management guru Peter Drucker has said, “The leader of the past was a person who told, the leader of the future will be a person who asks.” Drucker knew the complexity and growing speed of change in our day would require leaders to become constant learners. Questions lead to learning, making pronouncements does not.

Questions also strategically aid discernment by helping to clarify what is really important. They encourage creative solutions, bring renewed focus, expose bottlenecks and illuminate new pathways forward.  A well-placed question encourages dialogue and is much less likely to close down a conversation or cause offense.

Scripture is full of powerful questions. If anyone had the right to make declarative statements it was Jesus. Yet, he was a master at asking penetrating questions. Questions like, “Who do you say that I am?” (Mark 8:27)

So, what does this mean for you as you lead? Let me suggest three things:

  1. Questions should be an essential tool in your leadership toolbox.
  2. As a leader you won’t know all the answers or even what to say in many circumstances. Keep the posture of a learner and ask lots of questions. Questions can help you begin conversations that lead to greater clarity to help you and others discover answers.
  3. Become a collector of questions. Listen for them, ask others for their best questions and write them down for later use.

A great question may be just the answer you need!

To The Point,

Dr. Steve A. Brown

PS – Arrow’s new resource, “Great Questions for Leading Well” is a booklet full of powerful and proven questions that Christian leaders need to be asking. To order a copy for you or your entire team, please email info@arrowleadership.org