Curious questions

Creative Commons "Question!" by Stefan Baudy is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Creative Commons “Question!” by Stefan Baudy is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Several years ago I attended a narrative leadership retreat based on the book Know Your Story and Lead with It: The Power of Narrative in Clergy Leadership by Kelli Walker-Jones and Richard Hester. The retreat was a turning point in my ministry, partially because the relationships I either began or built on there were key in future vocational opportunities. But just as important was my exposure to the concept of curious questions, in which the asker is forbidden to “save” or “fix” the askee. The asker can only use questions to clarify.

Curious questions are the basis of coaching, in which the coach seeks to promote new awareness in the coachee through perspective-shifting queries. But curious questions are valuable throughout all of ministry. In pastoral care, in preaching, in meeting leadership, I’m not required to have all the answers. I just have to pose a thoughtful question that helps the care receiver, the people in the pews, or the rest of the committee consider the situation from a new angle.

What curious question, then, do you need to be asked prompt new awareness? What questions do the people in your care need to hear to grow as disciples?

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