Recently I was at a child dedication, mingling with the guests and fell into conversation with the great grandmother. Part way through the conversation she asks me a question.
“What are you into?”
I reply, “Bikes.”
She said, “What else are you into?”
Being 84, she obviously wasn’t into bikes, and was looking for common ground-bless her!
Now here is the moment of truth, those few seconds before replying had my head spinning with computations and implications of different answers. Scriptures also raced through my brain, “If you’re ashamed of me, I’ll be ashamed of you”. So I take a deep breath and reply with truth, funnily enough, always the best response. Why was it so hard?
I answer, “Bikes and Jesus”
Unfazed, she said, “In that order”?
That’s one astute lady realizing that Jesus probably shouldn’t be second on that list.
I say, “Nah, Jesus is first, but I didn’t want to put you off.”
That’s the power of questions; it really does get into the heart of the matter!
In fact, there is a quest in the questions;
Quickly. Understand. Everyone’s. Spiritual. Temperature.
When used with pure motivations, it can start a conversation that is deeply satisfying. I like to use the acronym SOS. Normally this stands for Save Our Souls, but for today’s lesson it short for: Situational Questions, Opportunity Questions and Spiritual Questions.
Situational Questions. Eating into a sandwich requires us to bite into the dry crust to get into the good bit-the filling. Situational Questions are a bit like this, they can be boring but hopefully they will lead to deeper conversation.
Examples of Situational Questions: How long have you been here? Are you a local?
Opportunity Questions. These questions are a little more probing, designed to find an opportunity to connect at a heart level and love the other person. This time you may also be required to share a little of your heart too! Being vulnerable yourself puts you at a safe level that a person can easily relate to. Examples of Opportunity Questions: What gets you going? Why do you do what you do? What do you find rewarding?
Spiritual Questions. Now that you have exchanged heart level conversation, it’s quite easy to get to this depth. Examples: Do you ever think about God in these moments? I would pray if that happened to me, have you ever thought about praying?
BOOM. Now you are given two ears, one to listen to the person, the other to listen to God. What vibe are you getting now? Maybe God is asking you to meet this person again, offer some course, or connect them to someone else.
Hey, and if you get rejected, you’re in sterling company! They rejected Jesus too!
I was engaged in another conversation with a civil engineer, this time I was the questioner and it went something like this;
Me: “What work do you do”?
He tells me all his major work, impressive stuff like being involved with building world’s tallest building, and being on the investigative panel for the collapse of others. I’m enthralled with this conversation!
But while I’m listening to him, I keep getting this question in my head-“ask him about the Westgate Bridge disaster in Melbourne”.
So I ask, “What do you know about the Westgate Bridge collapse”?
Oh my heavens, what a key question! He was there one hour after the collapse as an engineering student, and it really made an impact on him.
Throughout this conversation I’d already discerned that he wasn’t into traditional religion, but that didn’t stop me talking at a spiritual level. Why would it? To me, religion and spirituality are opposites.
So I take a big picture look at his life, all his achievements and can see the hand of God working through him. I make a comment, “I see that God had prepared you for those major works by putting you at the Westgate Bridge Collapse early in your career. He wanted you to build safe structures and ensure that people were protected. Basically you’re in the people saving business.”
He had never thought about that before. I left him with a seed, hoping and praying that others water it and God grows it!
“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth”.
1 Corinthians 3:6-7
If we ask enough questions, we’re bound to find something good to talk about which will lead to spiritual conversations. And through practice, we’ll start to hone our skills. I’d love to hear your stories! Send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org