You might pose the question in terms of their career, "Tell me how you ever ended up doing what you're doing today?" Or you might be prompted to ask a more probing question like, "Could you share with me the things that have led to your deep commitment to God?"
Questions are the ultimate compliment. Whenever you ask anyone a question you are suggesting that they have information you don't have . . . and that you sincerely would like to know. I'm convinced we don't ask enough questions. Most of us live like we have all the answers and we would rather not confuse the issue by getting unwanted input.
I love to hear the stories of people. They often report events that directed aspects of their life experience, they will frequently refer to the "timing" of circumstances that have affected them, and they will always talk about people.
And it's the people part of it that enthralls me. I can't seem to get enough of the people stuff. I ask them to tell me more about what these people said, how they acted, and what it was about them that had such a dramatic impact on their lives. It's incredibly interesting to me.
We are relational. All of our decisions, for good or for bad, have been impacted by others. Paul built a relationship with Timothy and poured himself into Timothy's life. Timothy heard what Paul had to say about critical issues of life and faith, he watched him relate to others, and emulated (I'm sure) much of message and behavior of his beloved mentor.
At the end of his life Paul writes to Timothy. It's his last written communication and one that speaks to his passions more precisely than any letter he wrote. His admonition to his disciple, "The things you have heard from me that have been confirmed by many witnesses, the same (things) commit to faithful men that they might be able to teach others also" (2 Timothy 2:2).
I have spent the greatest portion of my life coming alongside passionate people who feel called to fulfilling God's calling on their lives. They want to leave a legacy, something that will continue to fulfill God's work long after they've gone.
In the next several weeks I will be writing a series of articles on "relational development." I'd like to share with you a relational continuum and the logical steps that lead to the kinds of deep commitments so essential to ministry success. Hopefully the thoughts would do more than tickle our ears. I would hope they might move us to action and enable noble causes to achieve success.