Want to Make a Difference? Ask Someone a Powerful Question

What do you want?

It’s a life-altering question we’re often afraid to ask other people–and even more afraid to ask ourselves.

Once asked and answered, it’s a question that can launch a war or a rescue operation. It can start a presidential campaign or a life in retirement. It might wake us to the fact that we’re in the wrong place–or show us exactly where to go. It’s transformative, calling for a shift in reality–even if that shift is as subtle as a newfound contentment with reality.

Here it is Wednesday, and I’m still recovering from an exhausting weekend of learning how to help others transform. I spent an intense three days with a group of fellow learners, developing our knowledge and skills to coach others. Coaching is a process that helps people move from where they are to where they want to be, and I’m finding that it’s a process I absolutely love being part of. But it’s also a process that requires tremendous investment of personal resources–listening, empathizing, processing, disciplining my obsession with my own voice, loving others exactly where they are, believing in their potential to be more. I couldn’t be happier to use those resources in this kind of work.

A couple of months ago, I started a coaching practice, and while I’m still in the training process, I’ve already felt how much I love this work. One of the most powerful tools I am learning to use is asking powerful questions. Now, I’ve been asking questions my whole life, but asking questions with this kind of intention and true curiosity is something I haven’t always done. It requires me to bring more of myself to the conversation. And it requires my clients to do the same. There’s always something good in the result.

The more I see the impact of personal and professional coaching, the more excited I am about it. And as I consider the power in a good question, I think about someone precious to me, who used powerful questions to transform the lives of people he encountered. Jesus was a master of powerful questions.

His questions were often simple: What do you want me to do for you (Matthew 20:32)? Would you like to get well (John 5:6)? Who do you say I am (Mark 8:29)? A stroll through the red words on BibleGateway.com (click “page options” and check “red letter”) will show you that one of the striking qualities of Jesus’ ministry was a series of powerful questions he asked people–and looking for the answers drove them to look at themselves. He used questions to challenge assumptions, reveal motives, ignite faith, stoke desire, cause people to acknowledge their need for God, and more.

Coaches use questions in these same ways, and in the process we help people take ownership of their purpose in life. Who doesn’t need to do this kind of work? If anyone reading this is interested in working with a personal or professional coach, please contact me through the contact form on this site. I would love to offer you a free sample of what the coaching experience is like. And it doesn’t matter where you live–all you need is a phone.

But coaching isn’t the only context where questions can transform the people who seek to answer them. Any relationship can become the arena for transformation. Who needs to hear a powerful question from you today? Who needs you to really listen to the answer and listen for what it means? I encourage you to try asking someone in your life a powerful question today.

6 Comments
  1. Congratulations on this practice. How much? But seriously women, especially women, who leave their careers to tend to their family’s then need help sorting these things. It can be slow, painful and stifling to do it on your own. Let me know if you need a guinea pig.

    • Amy says:

      You’re right, Melody. Coaching could be of GREAT help in this situation. The other way around, too–when heading back into the work-outside-of-home force. I don’t need guinea pigs, but I do want to coach as much as possible. Even if you’re sure you wouldn’t want to pursue a coaching relationship, I would love to give you a free sample session. I love doing it, and I hope I would give you something of value. Plus, you might discover something you would want to recommend to others.

  2. Tony Roberts says:

    Excellent post. Many self-proclaiming Christians (myself included) follow more the Pharisaical method of only raising questions to stump opponents in theological traps. The questions Jesus asks us sets us free to choose abundant life.

  3. Laura Offenwanger says:

    I LOVE asking the right questions, to get a person really talking… sharing things that are happening in their lives that they weren’t even planning to discuss.
    Thanks for reminding me how Jesus asked questions to get people thinking about what they really want.
    Great job!

  4. Thanks for the post. I would really like to help others find contentment in life. Send the notes please.

    • Amy says:

      Helmut, I can’t send any notes, but there are a lot of training programs out there that will teach you how to coach. Some of them can be done online.

© 2014 Amy Simpson.