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Socrates told us, ‘The unexamined life is not worth living.’ I think he’s calling for curiosity, more than knowledge. In every human society at all times and at all levels, the curious are at the leading edge.” –Roger Ebert


Powerful questions receive little veneration in the Western world. Most of us are looking for answers. I understand why this is so, but could it also be that probing questions become the substance that connects the cognitive thought process to the problem? I believe so.


The Creator designed the human mind in such a way as to engage or kick in when it encounters the unknown, much like clicking the “search button” on your Internet browser or hitting “okay” on a dialogue box. Well-framed questions engage the brain and start the search process.


It is possible that an answer may be couched within this type of question. Jesus surely thought so. He used questions in conversation every day. His wise use of queries expanded the conversation rather than narrowing it and became a powerful tool used to provoke thought in dialogue. We too must learn this technique if we are to succeed at coaching spiritual sons and daughters.


The skillful coach uses questions not merely to gain information but to evoke deeper thought in people. The gospels record Jesus asking over 300 questions. It wasn’t because He was ignorant. He inquired to motivate deeper learning and self- awareness in the life of those He encountered.


“Who do you say that I am?” “Do you understand what I have done to you?” “What is it that you want me to do for you?” Do you recognize any of these examples? Each is a conversation-evoking question for which Jesus already knew the answer. He used them intentionally to cause His encounters with others to become thought provoking and unforgettable. He understood that life has the potential to succeed or fail one conversation at a time. Do you?


Coaches must learn to question the processes of life, to use powerful questions to evoke deeper learning. Learn to follow your curiosity as a coach. When things don’t seem to add up, probe. Ask questions, draw out explanations, and make people think deeply about their situations in life. Progress, freedom, and growth will result.


-excerpt from John’s book Coaching the Next Generation


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