Leadership Lab: Engage The Power of Questions to Reshape Your Ministry

"Leadership is not as much about knowing the right answers

as it is about asking the right questions!"

Bob Tiede


Coaching Questions for Leadership

Questions for Your Reimagine Journey

Lead. With Questions.

#ReimagineMINISTRY: Use Questions

5 Questions to Ask God by Judy Douglass - #ReimaginePRAYER...

Questions to #ReimagineEVANGELISM...

Questions for Small Groups

BONUS: #ReimagineMINISTRY...


{with appreciation to Bob Tiede @ Leading With Questions}

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    Four Questions that #Reimagine Conversations - Conflicts

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    ⁠— November 17, 2022 ⁠—

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    Thanksgiving & Four Deadly Questions 

    Several years ago, a political subject came up at my Thanksgiving table. (Imagine that …) Someone asserted – unapologetically, if not outright defiantly – that she was pro-choice. The discussion took the typical politics-at-the-table turn: a moment of stunned silence followed by volleys of mostly stock soundbites defending opposite sides of the divide until the volleys ended in a kind of “agree to disagree” truce.


    From a relational standpoint, especially in a family, an “agree to disagree” truce is certainly preferable to pressing an issue to the point of damaging a relationship. A large gathering is rarely conducive to helpful engagement, anyway. That said, helpful engagement, where possible, is preferable to a permanent standoff. Truth matters, and as the English philosopher John Stuart Mill said, truth always profits from its collision with falsehood.


    I followed up later with my pro-choice friend, one-on-one. I asked her to help me understand her point of view. Why did she take the pro-choice position? She told me a story about a child who had been abused and concluded, “Some people should not be allowed to have children.” While I could certainly agree that some people make unfit parents, this was the extent of her reasoning for abortion on demand. I found myself asking, that’s it?


    That was it. I was unpersuaded, but the impasse that ensued was no longer the typical “agree-to-disagree” silent truce. I had invited her to make her case and heard it out. For the record, she has never asked me to make mine.


    Nancy Fitzgerald, who teaches worldview and apologetics to high schoolers, identifies “Four Deadly Questions” everyone should have on standby for times when a disputed issue emerges. Here they are:


    1.     What do you mean by that?

    2.     How did you come to that conclusion?

    3.     Where do you get your information?

    4.     What if you’re wrong?


    Note that Question #1 is simply a request for clarification. Question #2 is a request for reasoning. These are invitations to “help me understand” and to “show me why I should take your point of view.” Both are respectful and should be asked respectfully. A good rule of thumb when a contentious topic arises is to never respond with a statement when a question will do. In a group setting, sometimes an escalating situation can be quelled with something like, “I’d be interested to hear more about that, but can we take it up later?”


    Handling these matters always involves judgment calls, but as I have asked questions like these, I have often been quite surprised at the shallowness of the answers I’ve heard – if the answers even come at all. This has held true whether the subject at hand is abortion, hard atheism, or some fashionable, politically charged slogan like “defund the police.”


    What’s different about my post-Thanksgiving dinner exchange from the stock “agree to disagree” impasse is that it left the door open for further discussion. For the record, she has not wanted to discuss the subject anymore. I would venture to say, nonetheless, that truth has profited from the collision.


    I usually send these communiques on Thursdays, but I will not be sending one next week. I hope your Thanksgiving weekend is rich with family, friends, fellowship, and gratitude. And if a contentious subject comes up, I hope Nancy’s four deadly questions help you feel more equipped to respond in a way that contends for the truth as peaceably and profitably as possible.


    Thank you for reading and supporting Salvo,

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    Terrell Clemmons
    Deputy Editor, Salvo






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