I mentioned in the last post that Jonah, who is almost three now, has a favorite question and that question is, “Why?”. Why is a very important question so I am very proud that he likes to know why things are the way they are or why things need to happen a certain way. Of course there are the times he really isn’t that interested in the answer but knows “why” is a means of gaining time before he has to do something. We are working on that!
Why is an important question for us as we look at our lives too.
- Why are we here?
- Why do we do the things we do?
- Why did you choose the career you choose?
Ministry was not my first choice. I went to Harding University to study psychology. Graduated with a bachelors and went on to do graduate work in clinical and health psychology at Florida. Something happened that made me ask, “Why am I doing all of this?” That something was September 11, 2001. It is hard to believe next month will be the tenth anniversary of September 11. The events of that day changed my priorities and made me realize that my answer to that question was insufficient. I was doing all of those things for me and no one else. I wasn’t happy with that answer. It prompted and motivated me to go to graduate school for ministry.
There are several levels to how you answer the question “Why?” On one level you can address symptoms but not really get beneath the surface. When we tell Jonah to clean his room and he asks us why often our answer is, “Because your room is messy and you have too many toys out.” But is that really the reason why we want him to clean his room? If you dig beneath the surface the real answer is, “Because we want you to grow up to be a responsible young man who knows how to take care of things.” Answering the question “why” should evaluate the real reason behind why we do what we do. It is important we don’t give surface answers to that question.
So why do you do what you do? Why do you work the job you work?
One answer to the employment question might be to get a check. Another answer might be to change the world. The way you answer that question has a profound impact on the quality of what you do. And if you change the why then the how and what also have to change and will change by default.
If you do your job to get a check:
- keep things as easy as possible
- sacrifice as little as possible
- invest in those you influence as little as possible
If you do your job to change the world for Jesus Christ it is essential that you
- do tough things
- sacrifice often
- invest greatly in those you influence
Once you change the why, how you do that and what it is that you do adjust to meet that purpose.
One problem we run up against in life is that often the initial “why” changes over time. Maybe you were really passionate about your career field, your ministry, or whatever it is you do but over time the routine of life, beurocracy, red tape, or whatever blocks the way and makes the once fiery passion a luke-warm or cold chore. People often get into helping professions to make a large and lasting impact (teaching, counseling, medical field, ministry) but get burned out because how they expected it to be doesn’t line up with what is happening in the field. What do you do when the how’s and what’s no longer match your initial “why”? It is important for us to remember why we started something in the first place in order for us to break out of the monotony of what some things can and do become. It is also important to remember, as Christians, that the real answer to the “why” question has to have Jesus Christ in the answer. There is no other foundation, no other purpose, no other source for finding the answer to why we do the things we do that will last than that. Anything else will lead to empty frustration and meaningless routine. That is not to say the Christian life is always easy all the time but we know that when God is behind something he will work it out for the good (Rom 8:28).
I was reading Philippians 2:1-13 through the lens of what and how we are to live based on the whys Paul supplies. Have a read and see what you think.
Everything he tells them they are to do, he gives the why.
- The why of Vs 2-4 flows out of vs 1.
- The why of verse 5 is explained in 6-11.
- The why of verse 12 is explained in vs 13
In all things our why has to go back to what God has done for us and in us and through us in Jesus Christ. There is no other foundation, no other source of life, no other “Why” than that. Anything else will leave the how and what of our profession, relationships, ministry, etc empty.