I can be a little obsessive regarding this whole WHY thing. It’s like the little kid in that commercial who follows the man around and questions, “Why?” to everything he says or does. Finally, the man says something like, “I don’t know, kid, why don’t you go ask your father!”
I want to know why. I think we have an inherent desire to know why. Nothing ultimately makes sense unless we can ask (and answer) the big WHY questions in our lives.
Philosophy has long been interested in the WHY questions. Plato questioned the ultimate why; Heidegger is credited with formulating the famous question, “Why is there anything at all rather than nothing whatsoever?”
Operating within the Judeo-Christian worldview, I would turn to the Genesis narrative of the Bible to answer that one. That’s a gigantic leap for many, and I get that. More on that to come…
Whether or not we operate within the Christian worldview, further WHY questions remain: why are we here, why is there a here at all, why is there suffering, why is there death, why bother…
I recently had the opportunity to again read Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, his memoir of concentration camp survival and formulation of his logotherapy.
In this slim volume, Frankl quotes Nietzsche: “He who has a WHY to live for can bear with any HOW.” To be sure, Nietzsche was not a Christian, but he was exactly right.
In our productivity apps-driven world, we are obsessed with WHAT we are doing. And man, we do a lot of WHAT! Our calendars are crammed with WHAT stuff. It’s tiresome, isn’t it?
Without a WHY, all the WHAT becomes overwhelming. And stressful. And unsatisfying. And unproductive.
Simon Sinek wrote a great little book titled Start with Why. Just go buy it. It’s kind of self-explanatory.
(Watch Sinek’s Start With Why TED Talk below. It will be time well spent)
I asked the congregation to imagine a little conversation they might have with someone who asked the following: “Tell me what your church is like.”
I said that 99/100 (I made that up, but it’s probably pretty close) of us would answer the question by explaining WHAT the church was doing (we have Sunday School at 9:45-ish…we’re involved in XYZ ministries…we have programs for all ages…etc.). Our default mode is in the realm of WHAT.
How many of us would begin by explaining WHY our church is here?
Which of course begs the question: do we know WHY the church, our church, is here? Why are YOU in church?
Just this morning (!), Seth Godin posted this on his blog:
“We want employees who know the why, not just the details of the how. We want customer service people and partners and vendors who understand.”
Putting this in the church framework, we could paraphrase Godin as saying, “We want members and attenders who know the why, not just the how, or the what. We want our members, attenders, and everyone we come in contact with, to understand why our church is here.”
Hi, my name is Greg, and I am addicted to the WHY.
Let me know what you think about all this stuff; I love the conversation. I’m excited to see what God is going to do in our midst as TOGETHER we clarify the WHY.
When we are clear on the WHY, the WHAT and HOW will pour forth like a raging stream.
God bless, and Peace.
*First Posted on May 12, 2015*
(read Godin’s entire post here: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/…/dont-do-what-i-said-do-what-… )