NU Oregon Blog

Two Questions to Ask to Foster Personal Growth

Two Questions to Ask to Foster Personal Growth

Sitting down with a friend I have not seen for a long time is a rare privilege and an experience that I greatly enjoy, partly due to my Connectedness theme from CliftonStrengths©. Over a recent period of about three months, I had several of those rare privileges. As I joyfully worked to catch up with each friend over breakfast, coffee, lunch, and other excuses to sit in a restaurant for a couple of hours, I found myself repeating the same two questions:

What have you learned in this most recent season of your life?

How have you changed in this most recent season of your life?

My friends were intrigued and challenged by these questions, and volleyed them back to me, too. These two questions helped us get past the “I like your hair” compliments
to the more important things in life. We discussed the way God was working in us, transforming us to be more like Christ. We shared the ways in which the process has been exciting and divulged some of the pain of growth. We laughed loudly about some of the inevitable humor in life, and we spoke in hushed tones about the personal and deep work of God.

I have thought back to that series of conversations. Why do I not engage with people in that way every time I sit down with someone for more than a moment? Why have I forgotten these questions that invite the kind of reflection that solidifies and increases learning and change?

I am going to be intentional about including these two questions in the personal conversations God allows me to engage in. I have decided that I like the meat. I like the laughter, too, but let’s be honest: in the real, meaty of stuff of life, there is still plenty to laugh about. Boisterous laughter and quiet revelations are equally life-giving when they are real.

What about in our communities? At the Northwest University Oregon campus, we are intentional about being there for each other. We have what I call a “Belonging Statement” that articulates what it means to be part of our community, and it includes this line: “We encourage and challenge one another to serve, learn, and lead with distinction.” The two questions I mentioned earlier could help us be more mindful of opportunities to “encourage and challenge one another,” so I am introducing these two questions to our students this fall.

Will you join me? Try asking these two questions the next time you meet with a friend and see what happens.

CliftonStrengths© from Gallup is referenced in this post. For more information, visit