What’s the best question anyone ever asked you?
Would you like a cookie?
What did you do in school today?
Will you marry me?
Some questions are, well, forgettable. But some questions are powerful! Jesus used questions often to open up conversations to new dimensions, to get people to think about a whole new reality. Do you want to be healed?
Some questions just sit quietly in the back of our minds and influence our behaviors in ways we don’t even realize. We don’t even know we are asking this kind of question, but they lurk in the back of our mind and get in our way. What does this person really want from me? What problem will turn up next? How long will it be before I get hurt? Will I be able to handle this? Habitual questions that reinforce doubt or fear or even anger DO influence the way we relate to others and to tasks.
Deacons often think about needs – what needs do you have? What needs are there in the congregation? What needs are there in our community? Sometimes those questions are appropriate, but if this question-pattern shapes our outlook, we’ll tend to focus on needs and problems.
What if we developed habits and patterns of looking for gifts, strengths, opportunities? When the widow came to Elisha, desperate because she had lost her husband and now was about to lose her boys to the creditor, Elisha’s response is significant: “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?” His first move to help is to ask her about her resources! Jesus does something very similar in the feeding of the crowds. In both stories Jesus expects his disciples to take action, and he asks them what resources THEY have.
We can ask questions that encourage, affirm, and invite trust. We can also ask questions that discourage, questions that demean, that create dependence.
Deacons can create new patterns of thinking by asking power questions; we can break chronic patterns of hopelessness by asking faith questions. What is your dream? What resources do you have? When did you solve a problem like this one?
What would you like to ask?