That's A Good Question

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

One of the best things I learned last week was how to ask better questions—both of myself and other people. When blurting out your own opinion is not an option, asking a good question is the best way to really further a meaningful dialog. In fact, I’m beginning to think that that questions are almost always the best way to further meaningful dialog….even when you do have the option to say what you think!

If you were to die tonight, do you know if you would go to heaven or hell?

Remember when this was pretty much the only way we knew how to start a conversation about faith? Things have evolved a little since then, as we as individuals have matured and as the culture has changed. Now I can think of all kinds of questions I ask myself and my friends about God and faith and life, questions I’m not as sure I have the answers to as I used to be.

Here are some of my favorite/most useful/weirdest questions.

To ask myself:

  • Can I turn this idea, or this frustration, or this passion into constructive action?
  • When tempted to gossip or smart-off—Can I get this same feeling of security/confidence some other way?
  • How am I spending my time? Could I be working smarter instead of harder…and am I spending my time doing things I really care about, things I think are important?
  • Would I say this if I knew the person I’m talking about was in the room with me?
  • Am I living deliberately? (Been asking myself this ever since I discovered Thoreau back in high school!)
  • When was the last time I spent considerable time outdoors?
  • Have I reminded Dan to eat? (He actually forgets if someone doesn’t tell him; I will never understand this about him.)
  • What would Jesus do? (I know. I know. But it’s actually a pretty good question when you really think about it…and when it’s not printed on a bracelet around your wrist.)
  • Am I treating people the way they would want to be treated?
  • Have I focused on making the people around me feel better about themselves or on making me feel better about myself?
  • Is it necessary for me to say this? (I REALLY need to work on asking myself this more often!)

To start a conversation:

  • Would you still be a Christian if there was no hope of heaven or resurrection?
  • Do you ever have doubts? How do you respond to them? (I’ve heard some VERY interesting responses to this question recently.)
  • Do you think that God has a specific will for each person’s life that each person must strive to discover?
  • How do you define “blessing”?
  • If money were not an issue, what would you do with your life? How much of that can you be doing on a smaller scale in your present circumstances? (Also a question I ask myself a lot.)
  • How did you meet your spouse?
  • Where were you when 9-11 happened?
  • What’s the most interesting place you have been?
  • What's your favorite animal? (WHY do people suddenly stop asking us this as soon as we reach puberty?)
  • What is your greatest fear?
  • What are you reading?
  • Have you ever seen ‘Arrested Development,’ and if not, when do you want to come over and watch it with me?

To improve conversation:

  • What do you mean?
  • How do you define—?
  • Where did you get that information?
  • Can you give me an example?
  • Have you ever seen ‘Arrested Development,’ and if not, when do you want to come over and watch it with me?

What are some of your favorite questions? Tomorrow I’ll incorporate the best of your questions/my questions into a questionnaire, and give everyone the chance to respond. Should be fun!

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