Getting To Know All About You
By Ed Delph
September 5, 2022
Every once and a while, you meet someone special. Such was the case a few months ago when I received an email from a reader of the Foothills Focus, one of the newspapers my article appears in weekly. His name is Paul Fredericks, the Pastor of Heritage Bible Church in Phoenix, Arizona.
He explained how much he and his wife enjoyed my weekly article. They wait each week for their newspaper to arrive so they can read the article. He wanted to set up a time with me to meet for coffee. We met, and I think I gained more from the meeting than he did. I want to share with you what made our meeting so special and transforming. I hope that what I learned from this casual meeting will elevate you as it did me.
Paul and I had never met before, so we both entered unchartered territory. But, the moment I met Paul, I liked him. He walked to me with a determined gait. “Are you Ed Delph?” I was right at home. I liked his vibe. I knew this encounter was going to be good. I didn't realize how good it would be and where this encounter would transport us. Like Dr. Suess says in a book, “Oh, the places you’ll go.”
Let’s pause for a moment. Observe the first minute of our meeting through the lens of leadership and partnership. Leaders create an atmosphere. Leaders don’t depend on the weather. They bring sunshine with them. Truly influential leaders can make their presence felt in any situation. Leaders understand that magnetism is one part inherited and two parts developed. Magnetic personalities create a positive energy flow.
After some small conversation and a cup of coffee (with me, nothing happens without coffee), Paul, with his eyes twinkling, held a list of questions he had prepared for our meeting. Paul was motivated and ready to listen. So, off we journeyed into a list of 20 questions he wrote for me. Later, Paul remarked that we only made it through the first question. So, here’s a list of his questions.
“What is your background, and how has it influenced you in your career, writing today? What is your faith journey? What is that one book that has influenced you the most (besides the Bible)? Why did you start writing your column and ten books? What advice would you give someone thinking about writing articles and books?"
And some more. “Who are your mentors, and why? What are the most influential lessons your mentors taught you? How did you incorporate those into your life and your writing? How do you articulate and pass those lessons on to others? What is something you look back on and wish someone would have told you during your career? Describe a time when fear paralyzed you in your career - how did you overcome it?”
“What leadership qualities are you trying to improve? What has been the most challenging? How do you remain inspired when inspiring others? What are your daily disciplines to keep yourself and your writing on track? Are there specific questions you ask others that have helped you? What has been your greatest challenge? How did you work through that? What do you do during your personal time that enables you to become a better writer and pastor? …husband? Etc.? What books or resources would you recommend?”
"What questions should I have asked that I have not? What can I do for you?” (I love this last question).
Today, most conversations with people are shallow. But not with a learner like Paul. We quickly moved from an acquaintance friendship to a casual, perhaps even close relationship. He didn't want to know me. He wanted to know all about me. He wanted to know who I am and what I do well enough so that some of me could rub off on him. He accessed the gift.
Here's some sage advice from author Stan Tobler in his book Minute Motivators for Leaders today. "Leaders and learners ask for direction. Good leaders don't try to be experts in every area. Leaders know what they don't know. They know they have skills but also know they are within a question's reach of even broader skills. People who don't ask for counsel make unnecessary mistakes. On the other hand, good leaders are not bashful about asking for advice. There's no shame in being ignorant, but it's a crime to be negligent."
I've been a pastor since 1979. Yet, no one has ever asked me 'deep-diving' questions like Paul. Not one of his questions was about Paul looking for an opportunity to speak about himself to me. Instead, he wanted to listen and learn, not have a preaching contest with me.
In a few weeks, I'm meeting with and networking with three top-tier Swiss leaders in Geneva, Switzerland. Two are from a business background, and the other is a church leader with thousands of churches worldwide. The leaders don't know each other yet. So I've chosen 16 of Paul's questions for each leader. Each leader will pick eight questions to talk about to the other leaders. This way, they will know one another, not just about one another. Thank you, Paul.
If you are wondering why I listed all of Paul’s questions, here’s why. It’s so you readers can use some of these questions to ask others to get to know others who could be a resource with insight for you. After all, the wisest leaders are those with the wisest advisors.
Ed Delph is a leader in church-community connections.
Visit Ed Delph's website at www.nationstrategy.com