The Positive Power of One Question !(26/10/02)
By Dr. Robert H. Schuller
My son and I have a
new series of messages entitled: The
Positive Power of One. And I'm sharing some thoughts
today on The Positive Power of One Question.
This series of messages will absolutely impact your life, and
I hope you can grab hold of this message today. To ask the right
questions is a part of the psychological infrastructure of positive
thinkers. It is one of the fundamental qualities of character
that can cause you to be a successful person.
Have you noticed how
many people are slow to ask questions and quick to express opinions?
Too many intelligent, educated, sophisticated, modern people still,
with all of their credentials, degrees and education, tend to
be judgmental and opinionated. And they express very authoritative
opinions, pass swift judgments and make bold statements even though
it may be a subject they know nothing about.
In this message I hope
you and I will decide to try to develop a habit of asking questions
before we make opinion statements. Why are we so often too quick
to blurt out a swift judgement or bold opinion?
1. I think it is
because we tend to have "instant impressions" ...
probably from a picture, a report or a sound bite. We hear one
little news clip and we think we have heard the entire story
and we accept these impressions as reality, or ...
2. A second reason is when we're issued an invitation to discuss
a thought, or debate an argument; we're constantly driven by
perceptions. Too often they are negative perceptions. And when
we state our arguments, we don't ask questions but, we are perception
driven ... based on limited experience, limited study and limited
knowledge. More often than not our perceptions cause us to be
prejudiced in our viewpoints.
3. Another reason we don't ask questions is because we tend
to be impetuous, probably driven by pride or lack of humility,
or probably because we're deeply set ... not by pride ... but
on the other hand by insecurities and we're easily intimidated
and don't dare to ask the right questions.
4. Probably it's because we are afraid of the answers. The answers
may be so convincing that we may have to make serious permanent
changes. We may have to say, "You were right. I was wrong"
... or ... "I never thought of that." Or we may be
forced to make a commitment and there is a price to pay in time
or in character, and we would have to get involved.
5. Maybe we don't ask questions because we've learned that we
can't trust the answers. We've lived long enough to have been
given solid answers from experts, with their academic degrees.
They are supposed to be so informed and time proves them to
have been wrong or prejudiced. There is enormous confusion among
experts on many subjects such as medical help, theology, politics
or how to deal with social injustices.
HAVE A MASSIVE EPIDEMIC IN OUR CULTURE TODAY
IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
TO MAKE STATEMENTS INSTEAD OF ASKING QUESTIONS.
I hope that through
this message you will realize that you need courage to be inquisitive.
to ask creative and challenging questions ... kindly
and respectfully, not leading questions, but opening questions.
It is important for every single one of us to become more addicted
to being a question asking person. Because if you can learn to
ask questions quietly, humbly, openly, honestly, it will do wonders
for your character.
Well, if we are going to become questioning people, where do we
Value Rooted Questions
Begin with what I call
value rooted questions. Probably
the single one most important question that everyone can ask,
"How can I make a difference?"
Before you ask this
question you do need to look around and listen! Listen to what
people are saying. Listen to what the world is expressing. Listen
for the cry in the night ... for the hurt that comes out of the
shadows. Listen for the moan and groan of people who are in trouble.
Most of us by nature tend to be consumed with our own pain, our
own distress, or our own challenges. That's okay, but something
has to happen where we begin to see others and ask the question,
"What can I do to make a difference?"
That question comes after you listen and you see and
you become aware of the problem in your own community ... in your
own family ... on your street ... in your apartment ... in the
state where you live ... in the country you live ... in the world!
can I do to make a difference?"
I was reminded again
this week of Ryan's Well. It's the famous story and it is true
of one small boy who asked the question, "What
can I do to make a difference?" In January 1998,
this 6-year-old boy, who lived with his parents on a farm in Canada,
listened in school to his teacher. She told about the problems
of children in the world, especially those living in Africa, here
they didn't have access to medicine, food or clean water.
This is the miracle!
A 6 year old boy from a farmer's family in Canada saying, "What
can I do to help?" He found out it would cost $70 to pay
for a well so that the kids could have clean water to drink. So
he came home from school and told his mom and dad he was going
to dig a well in Africa! And that he needed $70! Well, his mother
said, "That's a lot of money." Ryan said, "I know,
but I think I can earn it." So Ryan negotiated with his mom
and she agreed to pay him $2 for every additional chore he performed.
He soon earned his
first $2. He kept on washing windows, then picking up pinecones
... $2 for every special chore. Within three months 6 year old
Ryan had raised the $70... enough for a well.
His mother was very
impressed and she presented the money to Water Can, a non-profit
organization that funds the building of wells in undeveloped countries.
But when presenting his money, Ryan learned that $70 would only
buy a hand pump. Actually it would cost $2,000 to drill
What was this 6-year-olds
response? "I'll just do more chores." Then his mother
learned about the Canadian International Development Agency, a
national, political group had a principle of matching Water Can's
funds. This meant that if Ryan would raise $700, the government
would match his gift and he would have his $2,000. Now Ryan's
parents really became involved in Ryan's Well Project and they
e-mailed family and friends, telling them all about "Ryan's
Well" in Africa.
Then the story appeared
in the local paper! Donations came as Ryan continued doing his
special chores. By August he had raised the required $700. Now
Ryan was 7 years old. Then he heard that with his $2,000 gift
it would still take 20 people digging for ten days using a hand
auger. But with a portable motorized drill, they could do it in
one day. The cost? $25,000. Ryan's response? "Well, I'll
raise the money for that drill. I want everyone in Africa to have
clean water." So, again, with the Canadian government's matching
funds, Ryan began to raise $8,000 to reach the necessary cost
of the drill. He did it! Local TV stations interviewed him and
Ryan made news because he was doing something great! He
was attempting the impossible!
Then Ryan's neighbor
surprised him with enough frequent flyer points for two free tickets
for Ryan and his mother to travel to Uganda, Africa. They could
see the well that Ryan dug. And when Ryan got there, there were
5,000 children standing around the well, applauding, singing and
thanking him for his well, known as "Ryan's Well" in
Africa. Wow! Ryan, you made a difference.
Questions Can Make The Impossible Possible
What can one person
do if he asks the right power questions? Develop the habit to
give an answer that ends with a question mark. Don't reply, "I
don't have the money." That's a statement, but "How
can I raise the money?" Don't reply, "I don't have the
education or the talent." That's a statement. Ask, "How
can I meet the people who can help me make it happen?" Power
driven questions can make the impossible possible. Decide today
that you're not going to make negative statements anymore when
you see a problem. You're going to ask the power question, "Who
do I need to get together to handle this?"
What's the most important
lesson that can shape your life? It's not the answers you think
you know. It's the questions you dare to ask, because you don't
know where the answers will lead you.
I would suggest that
you start since we are a church, not just a secular motivational
group, to look at life from a spiritual perspective. What was
the most important question Jesus Christ ever asked? I submit
it was when He asked His disciples, "Who do you say I am?"
And Peter answered,
are Christ, the Son of the Living God." (Matthew
into that scene. Listen to the question Christ asked. Read Peter's
answer, and follow those who are wiser than you on spiritual matters,
Jesus Christ and Peter. Decide to become a follower of Jesus Christ.
When you follow Christ and He is in your heart and life, then
you will ask the right questions and be humble enough to say,
"I don't know much about this. Tell me more."
What was the most important spiritual question that impacted my
life? I asked that question as I studied for this message and
I was surprised at the answer that instantly came to my mind.
I grew up in a family who were all members of the Reformed Church
in America which has its roots in the Netherlands. So in our Dutch
denomination, when I was 6 years old, I had to go our religious
education called catechism.
was a study of the Bible and the Christian faith made up of important
questions. And the answers were all based on Bible truths for
students of all ages. It was called the Heidelberg Catechism,
written by professors in the Heidelberg University in Heidelberg,
Germany in the mid-seventeenth century after the Calvin and Lutheran
was the very first question I learned about religion? "What
is your only comfort in life and death?" Is that
the first question about religion? Yes, it is! The answer? "That
I with body and soul am not my own, but I belong to my faithful
Savior, Jesus Christ! ..." Wow! How did that
question and that answer shape
the life of a little boy, 6 years old, named Robert Schuller,
for the rest of my life?
been accused of preaching a comfort theology and I guess I am
comfort driven. All my life I have wanted to share with people
the comfort I have in my heart, my soul and my spirit for Jesus
is your only comfort in life and death?"
answer be, "That I, body and soul, am not my own, but I belong
to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ." Then, if that's where
you start, you're going to be driven by Jesus Christ more than
you know and you will ask the power questions when you look at
suffering, hurting people, "What can I do about it? How can
I be the hands of Jesus? How can I be the voice of Jesus.?"
I invite you whether you're as young as Ryan or if you're old
... yes, even one hundred years, ask, "What can I do to help?"
Become a true follower of Jesus. Then
you will discover the positive power of the right question.
O God, we need you. Jesus Christ, we need you so that we will
see and feel the hurt, the pain, and the disappointment and respond,
"What can I do about it?" "What can I do to make
a difference?" We want to be creative people asking the right
questions. O Lord, come into our minds and hearts to be our Savior
and Lord. Amen.