One Question: 3 Game-Changing Responses

This is a guest post from online friend and pastor Nathan Rouse. Nathan is Lead Pastor at Raleigh Christian Community, in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Check out these thoughts from Nathan:

With those I lead, my words carry a lot of weight. With these weighty words I’ve blown it and crushed people and on other occasions by God’s grace I’ve brought healing. But, I’ve found that some of the most intimate and helpful words that I’ve given to others come in the form of the question, “Would you share your story with me?”.

Let me give you 3 reasons why I’ve found this question to be a relational game changer:

It tells the person that you desire to truly know who they are.

Believe it or not people aren’t asking each other this question. I’m continually amazed how our conversations even with those we call close friends tend to stay on the surface. So when you ask someone this question it’s like a breath of fresh air. In essence you’re saying to them, “You’re valuable and I want to know who you are.”

It says, “I’m not the focus right now, you are.”

As leaders if we’re not intentional about putting the focus off ourselves and onto others, there will be many who will inherently make our conversations about us and our priorities for them. We need to be able to turn the tables and get back into their world and make the focus about them. This isn’t a leadership gimmick that seeks to make people think we really care. A leader who is worth his or her salt actually cares about those they lead.

It says, “I’ve got time for you.”

In a society that has pushed out all margin for relationships, people rarely “go there” with others around them. Turning to someone and asking to hear their story speaks volumes in regards to them being the priority in that moment. As a pastor that’s leading a growing church, I have countless people who start their conversations with me with this phrase, “I know you’re busy, but”. People automatically assume about themselves and others that we just don’t have time. Asking this question about their life’s journey gently encourages them that you do have and want time with them.

Bottom line: Leadership isn’t done in a vacuum. It’s done with people. The greatest gift I can give those I lead is to ask to know their story. Give that priceless gift this Christmas.

Let me hear from you. How have you gone about creating relational moments with those around you? Share a comment.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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16 thoughts on “One Question: 3 Game-Changing Responses

  1. I like to take a challenge of adding a "relational edge" to our normal traditions. Like… We open gifts on Christmas Day as a family and that is pretty normal, but to add a "relational edge" to it where we are communicating and learning more from each other we added: Before the person opens the gift, they can feel it, shake it and then they have to say what they think they are going to use that gift for. It just adds a little "relational edge" to a normal family tradition.
    Twitter: kmac4him

  2. This is a great question. One additional advantage, which at first I thought was a disadvantage, until I considered it more deeply, is it leaves the choice in the hearer's hands. The way the question is put invites the hearer to say "no", if they're not ready to go to that level, while still providing all the advantages Nathan noted. Great post.

  3. Great thoughts here. I'm an area missionary with Word of Life Local Church Ministries based in Ontario, Canada. I have ongoing interaction with pastors, youth pastors and children's ministry leaders and lately I've been asking them the following question in my time with them: What are you asking God to do these days?

    This has seriously opened up some great dialogue. In fact, here's recent response I received in an email when I asked that of a relatively new associate pastor:

    "That's a great question. I can't say that I have actually thought of it before, there are some things I am asking God to do, such as: to give me wisdom and courage to be a leader in my own home, to help me lead my family to follow after Him. I think most of the time I am assuming or hoping for God to do some things, but I am not actually asking Him. I am going to have to give that question some more thought, thanks for asking."

    I've learned that asking "good" questions instead of surface questions can take relationships deeper faster.

    Thanks again for your insight here. Blessings!

  4. You hit the nail on the head with "putting the focus off of ourselves and onto others." Great leaders lead through empowering their people, and I can't think of a better way to do that then show how much you care. Thanks Nathan.