Ask A Good Question (John 21:16)

“So what do you consider to be the most significant experience in your medical training that led you to consider dermatology?”


It was our second day of interviewing applicants for our dermatology residency program. My partner, a professor of dermatologic surgery in our department, and I each had a key question we would ask the applicants.


“Excellent question!” The young medical student was beaming, as if he correctly anticipated our question, and leaned forward in his chair. “I have often thought about this question and it has motivated me to become a better doctor. I was very fortunate to train with excellent mentors who encouraged me to enter dermatology. One thing that always impressed me was the reasons they entered dermatology.” With a knowing smile, he asked us. “I am very interested to know what motivated both of you to enter dermatology?”


My partner and I politely began to share our backgrounds and the reasons we chose our particular medical specialty but the time was fleeting and we needed to move on to the next applicant. After the student left the room, my interview partner and I sighed and looked at each other after the encounter. “He never answered any question!”


“I know. So frustrating.”


Ever meet someone like this? They answer a question with a question. While it may be thought-provoking for the questioner, ultimately, the original question is dodged and an answer is not given. It is a well-worn tactic of salespeople and even con-artists to divert attention and give control of the interview to the applicant rather than the interviewer.


Asking a good question is a true art and a sign of great intelligence and wisdom. Unlike the questions the medical student asked us, the questions that Jesus Christ posed to various people in the Gospels are compelling evidence to this point. He provoked the leading religious minds of the day by asking penetrating questions that forced them to re-examine their own faith and beliefs. He challenged people seeking to be healed by Him to understand their true motivations. And in the most poignant of all questions, Jesus asked the following of His disciple, Simon Peter.


…Simon, son of John, do you love me?…

John 21:16 (ESV)


Jesus asked His disciple Peter, this question three times. Each time He asked, Peter undoubtedly felt the pain and remorse of denying His Lord three times before His sentencing and Crucifixion. Jesus’ question was more than a seemingly innocent question about Peter’s devotion to Jesus. Jesus was offering Peter a chance to redeem himself and truly understand the cost of following Jesus if He truly loved Him. It was a good question, one that Peter must have asked himself for the rest of his life, as he gave up everything to serve His Lord, eventually being martyred on a cross.


Jesus Christ asks this same question to everyone, “Do you love me?”


I pray that your answer will not be another question, but an unequivocal, “Yes, Lord!”


Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.


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