We deepen our relationships when we consider what might be the question behind the question asked of us, and then address the deeper issue.

Hello everyone and welcome to episode 104.

One of the things I like about our podcast is the engagement I find with our listeners. It’s one of the benefits of listening to You Were Made for This that I spoke about in our very first episode back in late November of 2018. I’ll have a link to that episode, 001 Six Reasons to Listen to this Podcast, in the show notes for listeners who may have missed it.

I so enjoy getting your comments about our weekly episodes. Most are brief and encouraging, which I very much appreciate. And then every so often we’ll get a more lengthy response that challenges and stimulates my thinking. One such response from a listener came in recently that I found most interesting, and which is the basis of today’s show. It’s a concept that can help you transform your relationships into the best they can be. So keep listening.

Listener response from Pittsburgh

Not too long ago I received an email from Randy, a long-time listener to the podcast. Randy happens to be the Director of Financial Aid at the University of Pittsburgh.

Randy wrote to me with his reaction to episode 097, Good Things Happen If We Ask. He related the episode to the work he does in the world of academic financial aid. Here is what Randy wrote:

“While your focus on the podcast was about asking questions, this also took me down the path of when I meet with students and families.  Most are so new to the process of applying for financial aid they do not know the questions to be asking.  So, I approach answering their question, by then taking them on a journey of connecting dots to important pieces that address the real questions they need to have answered to ultimately be able to make their decision about affordability in attending our institution. “

“We often think we are asking the right question when in reality we either are not asking the right question or only skimming the surface.  So, hopefully, as we become better question askers, we can also help others do the same by how we answer their questions.”

Accounting: I didn’t know what I didn’t know

My experience with setting up my accounting when I started my former business

An important question behind the question

John the Baptist was in prison when he heard all the things Jesus was doing. So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus,

“Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?“ Matthew 11:3

The disciples’ question is loaded with emotion. Behind the question is wondering, “have we made a mistake in following you? Our leader, John, your cousin, is stuck in prison while you’re doing all these wonderful things. If you’re truly the one we’ve been waiting for, why is John locked up, unable to help you?”

  • A tinge of hopelessness, discouragement, and the feeling of “maybe we should cut our losses and move on”
  • Fear that we may have made a mistake
  • Fear that we’ve wasted a lot of time
  • Wondering, is it all true. Can we trust you to be who you say you are?
Jesus responds to the question behind the question
  • In answering John’s disciples, he addresses 3 different people: The disciples – John the Baptist himself – the crowds that were listening in on all this.
  • To the disciples, he doesn’t give a yes or no answer to their yes or no question. Instead, he answers their question behind the question. He answers by reminding them what they have heard and seen, and then go back and remind John of the same thing
  • “the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.”
  • In essence, lives are being transformed
  • And then there is this oh so tender response to John himself, “God blesses those who do not turn away because of me.” In effect, hang in their John. You’re in prison because of the stand you took for me, and my Father is going to reward you for it.
  • As John’s disciples begin to leave, Jesus turns to the crowd and praises John the Baptist, in verse 11 of Chapter 11, Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist.”
So what does all this mean for YOU?

How can you use what you’ve heard today to improve the relationships in YOUR life? Here are a few ideas:

Become more skilled in answering questions people ask, anticipate that there may be a deeper concern behind their surface question.

Practice the ORA principle of deepening relationships: Observe – Remember – Ask

  • Pay attention to any emotion that comes with the question. Is there any fear? Any sadness? Anger? How about joy? Do you see any regret?
  • Put yourself in the shoes of the person asking you the question. If you were in their shoes, what would you be thinking or feeling?
  • Remember what it was like for you when you didn’t know what you didn’t know. Draw from that experience to extend grace and understanding.
  • Ask follow-up questions. Get people to define their terms. Ask for examples. Get clarification.
  • Ask God’s spirit for help in responding to the question that will be most helpful.
If you're feeling like John the Baptist

Reading from Sarah Young's, Jesus Today, Day 102.

If you forget everything else, here’s the one thing I hope you remember from today’s episode

We deepen our relationships when we consider what might be an underlying question behind the question asked of us, and then address the deeper issue if one is present.

I’d love to hear any thoughts you have about today’s episode. Just send them to me in an email to john@caringforothers.org. I may share them in a future episode unless you say otherwise. You can also share your thoughts in the “Leave a Reply” box at the bottom of the show notes.


In closing, if you found the podcast helpful, please subscribe if you haven’t already done so. You can also help us to serve more people when you leave a review wherever you get your podcasts.

I hope your thinking was stimulated by today’s show, to both reflect and to act. So that you will find the joy God intends for you through your relationships. Because after all, You Were Made for This.

Well, that’s all for today. I look forward to connecting with you again next week. Goodbye for now.

You Were Made for This is sponsored by Caring for Others, a missionary care ministry. We depend upon the generosity of donors to pay our bills.  If you'd like to support what we do with a secure tax-deductible donation, please click here. We'd be so grateful if you did.

Related episodes you may want to listen to

001: Six Reasons to Listen to this Podcast

097: Good Things Happen If We Ask

064: Start With This Important Question to Ask

011: Relationship Skills – Level 1