Was that a real question or just whining? Have you ever heard a question and you weren't sure how to answer it because it was a thinly veiled complaint?
In the book "QBQ! The Question Behind the Question" author John G. Miller explains that asking 'why,' 'when,' and 'who' are surface level questions. Those words do not dig deeply enough to tap into the real questions...the questions behind the question.
People, including me, like to whine. "Why do I work harder and get paid less," "When is the boss going to fix this problem I told him about?" or, "Who dropped the ball?" It seems obvious in the workplace, but what about at home or with friends?
Which Questions Should You Ask?
Miller says that if a person asks 'what' or 'how' they show their resolve to tackle problems. In other words, the one who asks 'what' or 'how' actively seeks solutions.
I've been known to throw private pity parties. I slump into my corner chair, misty eyes and full of questions about my life. My mind fills with all the people, activities and situations I can blame for my stress.
"Who's fault is it," "When is it going to get better?" or "Why aren't things changing like I want?" But, inevitably, the time arrives when I must face personal accountability. I must open my eyes, ask some hard questions about how I arrived in this tear-stained chair and begin to ask the question behind the question: "What I can do?"
Maybe it's a financial crisis or a whiny child that I want to blame for how I feel. Instead of saying, "Why is this happening to me?" or "When are they going to stop complaining?!" I can begin to bravely ask: "What items can I do without during this season to create a little more wiggle room in my budget?" "How can we find alternative methods to save some money?" "How can I train my child to begin to give thanks instead of whining?" or "What can I change about how I'm talking about life right now to model well for my kids?" Ultimately I can ask the Lord, "How do you want me to feel/respond?" ,"What are you wanting to teach me God," or "What can I read in the Bible that will help me to trust you?"
What About You? Picture a kitchen. Who would you rather be friends with? 1. Someone who, when faced with a problem, opts to put their apron on and help? or 2. A passive, whiny person who only waits to be served, but reserves the right to point out faults the whole time? What words do your questions begin with? It's remarkable what kind of difference this small change can make in life. Dark spaces light up. Chaos comes into order. Isolated people join forces and form productive communities.
Each time you choose to ask an effective question, instead of simply whining, you are taking one more step toward developing the Habit of Perseverance. Habits turn into ways; and ways become lifestyles.