As a senior pastor I sometimes see tired looks on the faces of my team and feel like I need to inspire them. Ministry is hard and I don’t want my team to burn out, but frankly sometimes I’m hurting or tired and I don’t really have much inspiration to give. I’ve learned that inspiring my team doesn’t need to come from a well-written speech, a rousing slogan or my own well of emotional energy. Inspiration, instead, can come from questions … three kinds of questions to be precise.
1. Questions You Don’t Have Answers To
Asking people you lead for help with questions you can’t answer is inspiring to them. It inspires them because it reminds them that you are human, but more importantly that you are humble. The tendency for many leaders is to always have the answer. By trying to always be the smartest person in the room you create an environment where few are willing to speak up or even think outside the box. Instead, they feel like you are unteachable, so they keep their thoughts and opinions to themselves.
Think of some questions you’re struggling with and ask your team for their thoughts. This will inspire them to solve a puzzle, exercise their minds and challenge their pre-conceived notions. It will also make them feel good to know that you’ve asked them for their help.
2. Questions About Your Organization’s Vision/Mission
Next time you feel like spouting your vision or mission statement, don’t. Instead, think of some ways to ask people about your vision/mission. Here are some examples:
- “Hey guys, let’s remind each other why we are here. Why do we do what we do?”
- “What would happen to our community if we shut our doors?”
- “Why did we start working here?”
- “What about our work makes you feel like you’re making a difference?”
As your team answers these kinds of questions, you’ll be amazed at how their stories inspire one another.
3. Questions About Your Team Members’ Lives.
One of the most under-utilized tool in leadership today is the personal connection. If you notice someone on your team who seems down, take a few moments just to check in. Ask some personal questions like the following:
- “What’s going on in your life that I can pray about?”
- “How are things for you here at work?”
- “Can I help with anything you might be struggling with?”
- “How is your mom after her surgery?”
- “What would you love to accomplish in the next month?”
When you ask these kinds of questions, resist the urge to spout advice. Just listen. Later on you can offer advice or encouragement, but for now simply soak in the answers. When you ask people questions rather than making statements you reveal that you care. When people know they are cared for, they feel more inspired.
Take a few extra minutes this week and inspire your team by asking questions.
Do you have any inspiring questions you’d add?