Word for the Week
Short reflections on Bible passages, with a frontline focus...
He asked them, ‘What are you discussing together as you walk along?’
They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, ‘Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?’
‘What things?’ he asked.
I have a friend who works as a journalist for a major news organisation. He asks the best questions of anyone I know. But I didn’t understand why until I started to see how Jesus used questions.
So, why does the Son of God – who literally knows people’s thoughts (Luke 5:22) – use questions?
After walking along with the Emmaus travellers for a while, Jesus simply asks them what they’re discussing. He doesn’t impose his agenda – he simply asks permission to join in the conversation they’re already having.
The travellers respond – exasperatedly – wondering if he is the only one who doesn’t know about everything that’s happened over the past days. Of course, Jesus knows better than anyone. And he still asks if they would tell him a little more.
Jesus isn’t on a fact-finding mission. He seems to be asking because he wants to hear how these travellers will narrate their own experience. He gives them the space to process their hurt, confusion, and longings in their own choice of words.
And this is what I experience when my journalist friend asks me a question.
His questions open me up, but not because he’s especially incisive or articulate, nor because he uses the right inflection – though he is and does. Instead, it’s because when he asks me a question, I don’t feel like I’m being interrogated. I feel as if someone is genuinely curious about how I might narrate my own experience. He is genuinely curious about me.
We can practise that kind of curiosity with our colleagues, customers, and congregants. When they share how their weekends were, that they saw a great film last night, or how busy they are, we might ask what meant most to them, what they made of the characters, or what stops them from slowing down.
The author Andy Crouch puts it like this:
‘Brew coffee or tea, sit with a friend and ask them questions – questions just one step riskier than the last time you talked. As you listen, observe the flickers of sadness or hope that cross their face. Try to imagine what it must be like to live their story, suffer their losses, dream their dreams.’ (Strong and Weak: Embracing a Life of Love, Risk, and True Flourishing, p. 91)
This isn’t about using questions to manipulate a conversation and get it somewhere we want it to go. This is a Jesus-inspired curiosity that transforms not just our conversations, but our relationships – one question at a time.
Head of Innovation, LICC
What question you can ask someone on your frontline that’s a little riskier than what you’ve asked before? Join the conversation below.