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If you could ask anything, what would it be?

Below is an article written by Jay Hanson and myself and published by the South Georgia Advocate ( Enjoy!

If you could ask anything, what would it be?

We’ve been a bit intrigued by questions lately. I guess you could say we’re kind of question nerds. We began talking about the power of Jesus’ questions in our last article, “What is Jesus asking you?” As we reflect on the power of Jesus’ questions in our lives, we’re prompted to ask ourselves, “If I could ask anything, what would it be?”

I recently read that the best question-askers are actually 4-year old girls. They ask an average of 390 questions a day – primarily to their mothers (because their fathers tend to say, “Go ask your mother.”) It’s no wonder mothers of preschool girls often look so tired and frazzled! Questions take a lot out of us! They cause us to clarify, reflect, revisit, and revise our purpose, actions, and motivations. Imagine the energy required to ask and answer 390 questions a day!

While it may not be appropriate or even helpful for church leaders to ask 390 questions a day, it’s worth considering how our lives, leadership, and ministries would be changed if we fostered a culture of inquiry. What would it be like to lead in an environment where questions were valued and pursued?

  • The senior leader’s role shifts from “solution expert” to “discussion facilitator.” In a culture of inquiry, the leader becomes the lead learner- focused more on bringing out the genius and ideas in others than in pushing their own ideas.

  • “Not knowing” is not seen as a sign of weakness or ignorance, it’s celebrated as an opportunity for new learning and growth.

  • No question is off the table; no area is untouchable. Everything is fair game because asking questions indicates we desire to see things we haven’t seen and explore things we haven’t yet experienced. Questions make us better.

  • Questions aren’t met with defensiveness – instead they spark curiosity. Asking a question doesn’t mean you no longer value the past or the way things are being done in the present. Beautiful questions don’t devalue; they increase value.

  • Valuable, thought-provoking questions come from anyone, anywhere, and are considered regardless of the intention with which they were asked.

  • There is a general sense of comfort with being uncomfortable and willingness to consider challenging points of view. There is openness to acknowledging ambiguity and willingness to explore.

  • Assumptions are regularly identified and challenged.

  • Questions are honored and celebrated for their potential, eliminating the fear of others’ approval, reprisal, and rejection.

  • Team members aren’t rushed to find quick solutions. Adequate time is given for thinking, exploration, and discovery.

I would imagine most of you are yearning to have a culture of inquiry in your church and ministry setting. You recognize the power of beautiful questions to spark innovation, organizational change, and help us become more like Jesus for the sake of the world. But you’re stuck somewhere in the gap between inspiration and application. You’re asking… “How do I start?” Here’s the answer… you start. Openly ask questions of yourself - verbally model questioning your own motivations, thoughts, preferences, and ways of doing things. Celebrate and affirm questions- even when they produce difficult conversations. When working with a team or leading a meeting ask more questions and provide fewer answers. Set aside intentional, regular time for questions and thought-provoking discussions. Ask questions in every environment you lead- from the leadership team meeting to the worship service and let people (with the prompting and guidance of the Holy Spirit) grapple with the answers for themselves. Acknowledge the tension and discomfort beautiful questions bring. As you lead the way others will follow. If you could ask anything, what would it be?

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