#48 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.


I hope that through this message you will realize that you need courage to be inquisitive.

Dare 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 begin?

Ask 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!

"What 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 a well.

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.

Power 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,

"You are Christ, the Son of the Living God." (Matthew 6:17)

Now move 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.

Our 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 Reformation.

Now what 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?

I have 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 Christ.

"What is your only comfort in life and death?"

May your 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.

Prayer: 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.

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