Jesus asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” Luke 18:41
One of my spiritual gifts is asking questions.
I do this well. I often ask too many questions. The Russians began calling me
Pochemuchka (почемучка) which translates “a child who keeps asking questions all the time.”
That’s me. I have a great mentor in Jesus. He asked over 300 questions in the Gospels!
If you have lunch with me, I will ask you about what is happening in your life. I will ask about your wife and kids, and if you aren’t married, about friends and family. I have asked questions about fixing cars that are run by computers, String Theory, algorithms behind AI, and the difference between grandiflora and floribunda roses (Springfield, Ohio is the Rose City).
You don’t want to know the questions or the answers that I’ve discussed with funeral directors, sanitation workers, and heart surgeons.
I ask questions because I learn, and I am interested. Through all the questions, I’ve found three categories of “asked questions” that are answered with enthusiasm.
First, “What have you enjoyed doing this week?” There are variations of this question, but people enjoy talking about what they enjoy. If they hesitate with this question, I follow with, “Are things going well?” I’ve noticed that problems are discussed with reticence, but persistent and compassionate questions get answers.
Second, “What is your opinion on________?” I know a little bit about most things. Once I discover what a person does, I can ask a question about their occupation. I once asked an investor about bitcoin and he told me that he had made 40 million investing in bitcoin. For many reasons, I really, really wanted to hear his thoughts on investing in bitcoin.
When someone now asks what I’m going to do when I retire, I tell them, “I’m investing in bitcoin.”
Third, “Can I pray for you?” I have never had a person say, “No.” Your questions should lead to prayer or serving in some form of ministry. Do not ask questions to open the door so that you can talk about yourself.
I’ve influenced the culture at the church that I founded by teaching “Stop and Pray!” Christians are priests, so we stop and pray and serve.
When meeting someone new, sooner or later they ask what I do for a living, and when I say, “I’m a pastor!”, they often stop asking me questions!
I get back at them by asking what they do. I’m interested, and knowing this they…
Gradually open up! They know I’m a pastor, yet as I continue to ask questions, they tell me their ideas, frustrations, wounds, and secrets. Often, their inhibitions lost, pent up emotions, wounds, and frustrations break through.
On an airplane, a flight attendant (sitting next to me to get a flight in Atlanta) began yelling anger about her husband. The entire cabin began to listen. The entire cabin also heard when I prayed a very loud prayer.
I’ve thought about Pastor Grant’s “Pochemuchka Theorem” – the more you ask, the more they talk. I’ve even considered selling my techniques to the CIA.
Instead, I consider it an honor that others entrust their lives, their thoughts, and their souls to me. It is an honor that needs responsible stewardship and I have long lists of prayer requests dating back decades.
It is an honor to pray for you. But first, let me ask a few dozen questions.