I turned 33 last week. My Facebook page was filled with well wishes and encouraging words. Others took the opportunity to remind me that Jesus was 33 years old when he died for the sins of all mankind. There’s no way I’m going to try and measure up to that…however something else is starting to come into focus, I’m getting older, and I’m feeling older. (maybe it’s just the plantar fasciitis)
This is a fun season of life because there is so much to look forward to, yet there is an opportunity to reflect on the last decade of leadership. I am indebted to Erin and the other leaders that have served around me for extending an abundance of grace my way to help me get up and try again.
I’ve made way more than one mistake as a leader, but in the interest of interest I’m going to share one in this post with the hope that you will avoid my pitfall. Here it is...
Not Asking Enough Questions
Conversations are a beautiful thing. The exchange of information, stories, perspective, favorite Netflix shows...you know what I’m talking about.
However on more than one occasion, I’ve found myself in the middle of a conversation and nothing is happening. Literally, dead air. Awkward. If the conversation ends like this…there’s a high probability that there won’t be another one any time soon. If this happens when you’re talking with an older leader, you’ve just missed out on a huge opportunity for personal growth.
When I stop and think about it, waiting for others to ask me a question about myself might be the most selfish thought and behavior that I’ve exhibited. Clearly this is a huge mistake!
The remedy? …ask questions!
Seriously, instead of thinking about what you’re going to say next while someone else is talking, think about the next question you’re going to ask. Here are some of my favorite ways to do this:
The FORM Method
This is not original content, but I do not remember where this came from. It’s a simple acronym.
Ask others about their family.
Did you grow up around here?
How many brothers and sisters do you have?
What do your mom and dad do for a living?
This gives valuable perspective into the life of the person that you’re speaking with.
Ask others about their profession. Even when talking with a co-worker, there are plenty of questions for you to ask here.
When did you know that you wanted to do this job?
How long have you been doing this?
What’s your favorite part of this job?
What’s the worst part?
What is one thing that you know now; that you wish you knew when you first started?
The list could go on and on here. If you’re talking with someone in a different field, this is free education into the day-to-day peaks and valleys of their line of work. The point of these questions isn’t to be nosey or pestering. Questions demonstrate genuine care and a desire to understand.
Ask them questions about what they like doing when they aren’t working. This is a great way to establish common ground with someone and see what they value and enjoy when they have leisure time.
I’ve had the opportunity to play golf, fly small-engine airplanes, hike and camp, fish for rainbow trout, attend professional sporting events, enjoy concerts, and eat at great restaurants. Questions open the doors to new experiences!
Ask them about their faith and serving God.
What do you love about serving?
How has God been stretching you lately?
What have you been reading from the Bible lately?
That's the FORM method...I hope that it helps you as much as it has helped me. These are just a few examples to get us started.
I consider "not asking enough questions" the biggest mistake that I’ve made because there’s no way to measure the number of opportunities that I’ve missed by not asking questions. I shutter to think about the to the amount of perspective and experience that I’ve missed out on because I didn’t pipe up and ask a meaningful question.
So, let me leave you with a question: What do you think keeps people from asking meaningful questions?