I once read that John Maxwell planned his family vacations near great leaders. The purpose was to spend an hour of his vacation, at lunch, asking someone he looked up to questions. That made an impression on me.
I’ve heard other people talk about similar disciplines. An older friend once encouraged me to pick someone I respect and offer them money to spend an hour with me. I’ve never done that before. But, I have always tried to ask a lot of questions.
When I first got started in ministry, I was a sponge. I wanted to learn as much as I could. I noticed that all kinds of good things happened when I asked questions.
This one little discipline, asking questions, has helped me a ton, maybe more than anything else. It’s so simple. Yet, I can think of four big benefits…
1. It helps me keep a learner’s attitude.
When I discipline myself to ask questions, it keeps me learning. And, until I know everything there is to know, I’ll keep asking questions. This helps me remember that there’s always something new to learn.
Asking questions also keeps me curious. I want to know what other people are thinking and doing, especially other leaders. I can learn what those things are when asking questions is my default mode.
2. It keeps me from talking too much.
It’s interesting to me how many Proverbs there are about talking too much. Here are a few examples…
“Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.” Proverbs 17:28
“Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.” Proverbs 10:19
“The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.” Proverbs 17:27
If there’s a correlation between talking too much and being foolish, I don’t want to waste my words. Asking questions is a great way to guard against talking too much. It positions me as a listener.
3. It keeps me humble.
I’m sure you’ve spent time with people who love to talk about themselves. It gets old quickly. No one wants to be that person. Regularly asking questions keeps the focus off me.
When I discipline myself to ask questions, I discipline myself to have Jesus’ attitude. I intentionally choose to value others above myself (Philippians 2:3). When I do this I’m focused on the people I’m talking to, not myself.
4. It shows people that I care.
When you regularly ask people questions, about their life, their work, who they are, you’re doing something important. You’re showing them that you care. This is simple but powerful.
When someone asks me a question and remembers my answer later, it’s clear to me that they care. They were paying attention. How easy is that? We could possibly make someone’s day by asking a question, listening, and remembering what they say.
What disciplines have helped you the most? I’d love to hear your thought. Leave a comment below.