June 9, 2018 • Life for Leaders
“What do you want me to do for you?”
When a blind beggar cries out to Jesus for mercy, Jesus decides to ask the man what he wants. Isn’t it obvious? A blind beggar obviously needs to be healed! But Jesus respects the man by not assuming, but instead asking an empowering question that allows for the one in need to express his desire. Just this one observation of Jesus’s leadership speaks volumes to how we should engage with those we serve.
In his earthly ministry, Jesus asked more questions than give answers. One book even claims that Jesus asked 307 questions in the Bible but only gave three answers! Whatever the exact proportion, it’s clear that asking questions was a common practice of Jesus and an important leadership trait that we should emulate.
In Jedd Medefind and Erik Lokkesmoe’s book, The Revolutionary Communicator, they argue that great leaders often have more question marks than exclamation marks at the end of their sentences. “Great communicators understand that well-formed questions can be wielded as a battle horn, soft and low at first, then growing as they echo from mind to heart and back again, serving as a clarion invitation to new possibilities and previously unconsidered truths (The Revolutionary Communicator, 49).
They list as an example Socrates, who has influenced so much of western civilization with a teaching style that is based on asking questions. Dr. Martin Luther King was another great leader who used questions: “The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love?” Great leaders ask questions instead of assuming that giving answers is the best way to lead. A good question can be far more influential than a correct answer.
While I might be tempted, as a leader, to make emphatic statements and demonstrate my knowledge, perhaps asking questions might often be the better leadership act. Tomorrow, we will take a deeper look at how we can grow as leaders by asking good questions of those we serve and lead.
Something to Think About:
Mark Roberts writes, “I don’t believe you want quick, easy answers to your questions about faith and work so much as a way of thinking deeply about your work as a central part of your whole life, not to mention a crucial element in God’s work in the world.”
Something to Do:
Take some time to meet with someone you mentor and prepare some good questions for discussion. Here are some suggestions to get you started: “What are you learning right now? What is a personal goal in which you’d like to see measurable growth one year from now? What kind of legacy do you want to leave? What actionable item have you been delaying? What do you want?”
Jesus, help me become better at asking questions that lead people to make important changes in their lives and in the world. Empower me to live a life that causes others to ask the right kinds of questions about your Lordship, the brokenness in this world, and our role to join you in making it better. Today, I choose to not forfeit my soul for temporary things but to invest in your kingdom with my whole self. Amen.
In today’s devotion, there is a small error. “Give” near the end of the first sentence of the second paragraph (“Jesus asked more questions than give answers“) should be “gave.”
Tim, thank you for your excellent and challenging devotions. I look forward to reading them a couple times each month. Today’s devotion is particularly timely and helpful, as I’m stepping into an additional leadership position of oversight of a dozen and a half people.