God designed people to learn! First and foremost, God designed people to learn about Him, and asking good questions is an essential part of that design. Great learning begins with the skill of asking the right questions at the right time and in the right way.
As children grow, they learn many things from both their environment and the people in their lives. Much of a child’s earliest learning is for both survival and to conform with the culture and/or people who are supporting their life. But there are multiple points in the life of a child when they begin to ask a lot of questions. Those multiple, perhaps instinctual, questioning periods in the life of a child are opportunities for great learning to occur. God created the human mind to have curiosities and interests. God designed within every child, the art of asking questions.
Initially, children ask questions based only on what they already know or the culture in which they live. But there comes a time when they begin to ask questions that are greater than their culture, more extensive than what they already know, and beyond simply the need to survive. The human mind was created by God with a desire to know HIM, which is why children will eventually begin asking questions that are rooted in the very fabric of human existence.
Jesus Asked Great Questions
Jesus asked great questions! His questions helped others to see far beyond their current understanding and reach into something new or to build depth. He asked the right questions to elicit the needed response. There were times when he would use a very simple question to engage his students. “What do you think?” (Matthew 17:25) He also used engaging question like when he asked two disciples on the road to Emmaus, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” (Luke 24:17) Jesus asked questions in order to move people from one point to another, to draw them in, to think about what was really important, or to help them recognize the amplitude of their faith.
Mark 10:51 (ESV) – And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.”
Matthew 16:15 (NIV) – “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Matthew 21:25 (ESV) – “The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?”
Jesus helped those who followed Him to see past the obscurity of how things had always been done. His questions brought light in the darkness. His questions brought a new way of understanding spiritual truths. His questions still resonate today requiring deep thought, research, and a commitment to seek the answers. For example:
How can you say good things when you are evil? (Matthew 12:34)
Why did you doubt? (Matthew 14:31)
Why do you break the commandments of God for the sake of your tradition? (Matthew 15:3)
What do you want me to do for you? (Matthew 20:32)
How are you to avoid being sentenced to hell? (Matthew 23:33)
Why are you thinking such things in your heart? (Mark 2:8)
Do you not yet understand or comprehend? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes and still not see? Ears and not hear? (Mark 8:17-18)
What are you thinking in your hearts? (Luke 5:22)
What concern is it of yours? (John 21:22)
What are you seeking? (John 1:38)
What will it profit a man to gain the world and lose his soul? (Matthew 16:26)
What is that to you? (John 21:22)
Great learning is most often associated with the ability to ask questions. That doesn’t always mean someone else asking because there are times when you are asking the question. The best questions are usually the ones inspired by the Holy Spirit. With that in mind, Christians should be the best questioners on the planet because they have the example of Jesus, and they have access to the inspired questions from the Holy Spirit. Learning is always in the realm of asking the right questions at the right time and with the right purpose.
Questioning Vs. Parroting
For many years I had the privilege to work as an educator. Throughout that time, there was little curiosity from educators for improving the skill of asking questions. If the subject of improved questioning was brought forward, it was usually met with disdain or ridicule. Rarely was there any thought that learning might be better served if we taught the students how to ask questions and as teachers we should build a system of curiosity for them to ask questions.
Most educators ask questions for which they already know the answer, the answer is in the back of the book, or the answer is a regurgitation of something the teacher already said. That makes it more a system of parroting than a system of learning. Consider how different it could be if children were taught how to ask questions based on their natural, (God designed), curiosity and interests. How exciting might learning be if adults framed the learning conditions to inspire the child to use their natural curiosity. Great learning is highly associated with an ability to ask the right questions.
What do you want to learn more about?
What’s your purpose for wanting to learn that?
What’s the Holy Spirit inspiring you to know more about?
What caused your desire to want to know that?
Who was involved with your wanting to learn that?
Who will be involved with helping you to learn?
How much time will you commit to the learning process?
How will this learning change your life?
What is the anticipated outcome after you’ve learned it?
How will that new knowledge fit with your vision?
What’s being added to you?
What’s being subtracted from you?
How will that learning support your service within the body of Christ?
How will this learning experience give glory to God?
Questions Need A Purpose
Great questions begin in the heart of the person asking the questions. Every question has a purpose behind it even if the person asking hasn’t clearly defined that purpose. A good person produces good questions. An evil person cannot help but bring an abundance of evil because that’s what’s in their heart. All questions that are asked will reflect the heart of the person asking.
For there to be a jump or increase in learning, questions need to engage the mind. Holy Spirit-inspired questions will always be the best questions for engagement. It requires Holy Spirit-inspired questions to overcome an evil culture. Holy Spirit-inspired questions produce reflective answers and require the listener to ask the same question of themselves.
Learning is an art that begins with an ability to ask the right questions at the right time in the right conditions with the right people and the right purpose.
God knows what’s in the heart of every person and He knows the purpose behind every question asked. You have the right to ask the Holy Spirit to help you frame your questions. That’s when you’ll frame the right questions at the right time and with the right purpose.
Jeremiah 17:10 (ESV) – “I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”
The second part of the art of learning is the ability to ask great questions. How to ask great questions is an underappreciated skill that lies at the root of learning. Great questions unlock hidden truths, deliver required information, and mitigate risks. Great questions indicate that the questioner has prepared for the conversation and has the ability to move the learning process forward. Great questions invite others to deepen their thinking and challenge the status quo. Great questions deepen relationships and have the potential to build trust. Great questions illustrate expertise while exposing ignorance. Great questions yield powerful conversations and produce answers that can change the world. The best questions have always and will always, in some form or fashion, lead us back to God as the creator of all things.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. Rich Weigel has an extensive background in leadership with over twenty years leading school districts. In addition to being a credentialed Leadership and Visioneering coach, he has been an adjunct professor five times in various universities teaching Strategic Leadership, Business Ethics, and Educational Leadership. He and his team provide support, coaching, and professional development for teams and leaders in schools and businesses around the country.
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