How can one person have hundreds of “best friends”?
I have had and do have individuals in my life that impact people powerfully. When you hear others speak of those individuals, they use language that would seem they are best friends. These highly relational people leave their mark dynamically on those they come in contact with and can make someone feel as though they are important or even special. I try to be that person and emulate those qualities that leave others feeling as those they are loved. Not for any reason other than God wants them to experience the Love that HE has for them. These relationally powerful people should inspire all of us to better conduit the love of Christ to others.
Over the years I have made observations about some of those qualities. In this post my desire is not to be all encompassing. My desire is to illustrate what I believe is one, if not the most important attribute that leaves people feeling as though they are loved, cared for and noticed. That quality is listening. Listening with the intent to understand helps not only us learn about them, we also can learn something about ourselves. We value people by leaving them with a small but powerful gift, the gift of…being heard.
The art of asking questions was modeled in a deep and powerful way by Jesus. Jesus asked great questions. As a matter of fact, in the Gospels Jesus asks more than 300 questions. He is asked 183 questions of which he only answers 3 questions directed at him. Jesus knew the answers. Instead of answering, Jesus modeled how asking questions keeps people engaged and helps them gain insight into their belief systems and current state of mind. Questions promote reflection. Questions open doors of curiosity that help people feel heard and cared for. Jesus modeled this with an inspiring consistency.
I am not a licensed counselor, nor do I have any special certifications. I am just a Christ follower who loves God and loves people. I am on staff at a church that values time spent in relationship with people. My pastor has is another person that has taught me about the art of asking good questions and listening with the intent to understand. Here are two top things to I would encourage you to remember when interacting with others:
- STAY DISCIPLINED AND CURIOUS
I must stay very disciplined and curious. After someone has shared their story, I might make a comment like: I heard you say, or can you tell me more about that? How did that make you feel when that happened, is another example of a curious question? When they wrestle with questions it allows them to gain clarity, define the problem, and contemplate why the problem exists.
- WHAT DO YOU WANT?
Jesus asked the question what do you want? I often ask that question at the end of my first conversation with someone. I let them tell me what they want out of these meetings. That way I can determine where they are in their own position on a given topic. Are they stuck in a place of grumbling and complaining? Has bitterness overwhelmed them? Maybe they are filled with fear to forgive and move on? Regardless of where they are as a disciple maker I need to allow them to voice what they want so I can understand how to best come along-side them.Here are some other questions I have learned to ask that has opened the door to powerful conversations along with helping people feel cared for and that you are curious about them.
- Where do you see God working in your life right now?
- What is God teaching you?
- How long have you struggled with this issue?
- How can I come along side you in your walk with Jesus?
- What are you most grateful for right now in your life?
I spend a lot of time with people who are struggling with some hard stuff. It could seem like a daunting task, but because I have learned the art of asking good questions, I see it as a privilege and an honor to help them navigate hard things. So next time you sit down to a meeting with someone or walk into a busy room pause and get curious. I encourage you to model what my friend did for me and you will most likely build healthier relationships and learn something new. Hey, they might even learn something about themselves.
by Judy Cintron – Director of Restoration
Real Life Ministries Texas