In a recent discussion with a couple of leaders, the conversation turned to how to elicit a good response when inquiring about how another leader is doing. Not only leaders, but this is also applicable to any person that you want to check on or inquire about – as long as you truly care about the individual. Both men stated a couple of possibilities. 1) How are you doing? Or 2) How can I pray for you?
My mind kicked into gear, and I asked, “Is there a better question?” That’s the way my mind is wired, always looking for the better question. Both men looked at me with an inquiring facial expression and one asked, “Like what?…”
“Well, if you really want to find out how they’re doing or how to pray for them why not ask something like, “What is the biggest hurdle you are facing right now?” You could see the light bulb go off in their head by the expression on each face.
When you ask one of the two questions in the first paragraph, you will get a response. However, it may or may not be the reality of what is needed in his life. When you ask, the biggest hurdle question, that hurdle will guide you to understanding the need in his life. You then can suggest and develop a line of the prayer. The following is what I later wrote and sent to the men I was meeting with.
Instead of How can I pray for you? Or What can I do for you? Why not ask questions as…
What do you see as your biggest hurdle right now? (in ministry, personal life)
What occupies the majority of your time these days?
In all of our lives (jobs), there is stress. What are your two top stress causers?
It is important to use deeper listening skills to their answers. Listen to what is being said and to what is not being said. The following demonstrates a funnel of questions for each of the above.
1 What do you see as your biggest hurdle right now? (in ministry, personal life)
In your opinion, what could you use to help you over these hurdles?
Thinking of those responses, how can I assist you in overcoming those hurdles?
2 What occupies the majority of your time these days?
Which of these are time thieves (stealing time that you reserved for study or other works)?
Can you list two things you could use to guard against and reduce some of these time thieves?
What would need to happen to bring these two to reality in your life?
How can I be of assistance to you with your time thieves?
3 In all of our lives (jobs) there is stress. What are your two top stress causers?
How/what have you learned to do to relieve yourself of the stress of these factors?
What do you believe to be within your power to avoid or reduce the stress caused by these?
Are you willing and capable to enact either of those? (those= answer to question above)
Can I assist you by calling you in two weeks to see how you are coping with these stress factors?
At the close of each of these is the built-in opportunity to pray for that person. These questions should give you a much better & more accurate idea of what is going on in this person’s life and a greater opportunity to understand what his/her needs are. Asking these questions also will engender a greater sense, on the other person, that you truly care.
Do you have a better question? Are the responses you get from others expressions of true heartfelt needs or superficial, spur-of-the-moment responses? Try one or more of the three listed above to show you really care and see if your prayer life increases as well.