The Importance of Asking Questions

I boarded the plane in Dallas, flying to Atlanta. As usual the plane was full. Since I don’t have like a million miles there in no chance of a bump-up to business or first class. When booking seats on a plane I usually request the isle seat and the emergecy exit. For those of you who fly, you know that the emergecy exit has more leg room.

On this flight, I was not in the isle. I was in the dreaded middle seat. On this flight I was not in the emergecy exit. I was near the restroom. So I sat down between two other travellers. In briefly talking to both of them, discoverd that the man to my left was a contractor and had done some work in Enid Oklahoma. The woman to my right was from Kansas and flying to Atlanta for a business convention. She was more than willing to share about her “at home” business and about her personal life. At some point in the conversation she said, “You must be in sales.” I responded, “Why would you say that?” She then explained, “You ask questions that deal with my hopes and dreams. That makes me wonder why you would ask questions like that. What business are you in?”

Ok, at that point, I had to think and pray very quickly. “Do I tell her I am a minister? If I say that, will she drop the conversation like a hot potato? Or, will she get all religous on me and turn on some strange kind of ‘God talk’ and not be real?” What I told her was not a complete answer. I told her one facet of my work. I told her that I was a relationship counselor. I helped people in their relationships. I have to say, this was a real turning point in the conversation.

We talked for an hour and half about her relationship with her daughter-in law. The daughter-in-law was a Mormon. This has really bothered her. I asked my new friend what faith she was, and about her own personal relationship with Jesus Christ. She gave a wonderful story of salvation, then becoming a prodigal and coming back to the lordship of Jesus. I gave her some relational tips, taught her how to pray for her daughter-in-law and how to speak to her son. I also gave her the  website to learn more about Mormonism and how to be a positive influence for the real Jesus of the Bible. Not only was I helping her, but the people seated in front of us had stopped talking and were listening to us as well. I know this because I heard them make a few comments on our conversation to each other later. Who would have throught a few exploring questions about meaning, values, hopes and dreams would lead to such a conversation? In the personal sharing of your faith, next to listening, asking questions is the most important.

I want to share with you a secret about questions. Most people think that the person who is talking is controling the conversation. That is not true. The person who directs the conversation is the person asking the questions. Asking the right questions will help you determine where the person you want to share with is in his/her spiritual walk. You don’t even have to ask spiritual questions, if God is dealing with them at some level, it will come out. Then you meet them by listening and asking more directive questions.

In my next weblog I’ll write about how to use directive questions to guide a conversation.


About Jimmy Kinnaird

Jimmy started his ministry on the streets of the French Quarter of New Orleans leading a jazz band as a tool to witness for Christ. He has also been a church staff member, church planter, pastor, and Church Outreach Team Leader for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. Recently, Jimmy served as Personal Evangelism Resource Coordinator on the Personal Evangelism Team at the North American Mission Board, SBC. He is currently pastor of Village Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
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