From my 2013 Journal.
When someone shares a problem with me, Miss Fix-it here tends to jump in with a solution. I’ve learned, however, it’s better to find out what the person wants or expects first, or I may get a rebuttal. Sometimes people don’t want a solution; they just want a listening ear.
The prophet Elisha asked the prophet’s widow, How can I help you? What do you have in your house?
God asked Moses, What do you have in your hand?
And Jesus asked the disciples, How much bread do you have?
We need to start with what we have and work from there. This is a principle I learned from the book When Helping Hurts by Corbett and Fikkert regarding poverty—start where a person is, using the resources they already have. Don’t just jump in to fix it. Let them be part of their own solution.
A 2021 Update. I’m reading The Power of Moments by Chip Heath. In section II, the author suggests a better question for a health professional to ask than “What’s the matter with you?” is “What matters to you?”
Sometimes the solution lies in asking the right question.