what is your why

Lately, God has been walking me through some deep, difficult questions. The more I study the way biblical people answered those questions, the more I recognize that my answer to “why” I do what I do matters so much more than “what” I want to do.

I heard a fascinating interview with Simon Sineck. He has written a book called Start with Why. In the interview he said, “If you can’t figure out your purpose, figure out your passion. For your passion will lead you right into your purpose.” Sinek’s philosophy is not scripture based, but he has captured biblical truth in his philosophy. “Finding ourselves” is not about discovering what we want; we see ourselves most clearly when we begin to understand ourselves in connection to God.

God has given us the answer to “why”. We are intentionally created in his image to know him and be in relationship with him. Everything else about our lives is a “what”. He gifts each of us uniquely and individually that may make our “what” look different from others, but ultimately our “what” is less important than our “why”. Your gift may lead you to work with numbers or children, to teach or organize. Your faithfulness in using your gift will make all the difference to your joy and the needs of those around you. But that gift, in and of itself, is not your purpose. What you do with that gift, why you use it, is your purpose. A teacher whose purpose is to win an award or gain notoriety is very different from a teacher who seeks to educate his students. When we focus on the “what” of our gifts, we may very well lose sight of the “why”.

But when our gifts and our passion merge, there is a thrill and joy that makes whatever we sacrifice seem insignificant. I seriously doubt that Mozart’s mother had to bribe him to practice his harpsichord or that Leonardo da Vinci’s parents had to make him study. Pick any professional sports player today….chances are he was the last one to leave the field or court when practice was over. Mother Theresa didn’t resent the sick who needed her attention; Billy Graham isn’t bored by Bible study. The goal of each of those was never just to “do it one more time”; the goal was always to improve their “what” so that their “why” improved.

When I have a clear understanding of why I do what I do, my choices become much easier. So much of my wasted time and selfish behavior occurs when I focus on what, rather than why. If my home is about my family, my focus will be on their protection and blessing. When they spill something on my freshly scrubbed floor, my response shouldn’t be based on the floor; it should be based on my family. When my quiet time with God is about hearing from him and finding fresh understanding of his word, I move into my day knowing I’m loved and blessed beyond measure, regardless of my circumstances. When my quiet time is simply something I do because I feel I should, I move into my day with one more thing checked off my “to do” list.

How would our marriages be different if we were more focused on the health of the marriage than on what our spouse does that displeases us? How much more effective would our government leaders be if their goal was to serve and protect the people who elected them to office and focus less on their own reelection? If the church focused on making disciples and proclaiming the gospel, rather than dividing itself over issues that matter far more to us than they do to God? How would our lives be different if our energy was invested in learning to love and serve God, rather than demanding the love and service of those around us?

This day, choose to be defined by your why. Recognize that you are utterly loved by God. Let your choices and actions, your attitudes and behaviors be a reflection of his love in you. Joyfully invest your “what” in your “why”.