Christ didn’t send me to baptize, but to preach the good news. 1 Corinthians 1:17
Have you ever gone shopping without a purpose? Wandering aimlessly through department stores can be a stressful experience for me. I either buy things I don’t need and then feel guilty about it. Or, I become overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of all the “stuff” stores have and feel anxious and depressed. While I love shopping, I generally need a purpose for it–even if that purpose is that Old Navy is having a really great shorts sale!
Purpose is important. Purpose gets us out of bed in the mornings. Purpose propels us forward. Yet often, many of us go through life with no clear idea about our purpose. We feel anxious, depressed and overwhelmed because we don’t know why we’re doing what we’re doing. The daily grind becomes a true grind. There’s no joy in our work. There’s no joy in our kids. There’s just a to-do list.
As John O’Leary writes in his book On Fire: the 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life, “We spend the vast majority of our efforts and life focused on the how. The how consists of the tasks, the duties, the obligations, the stuff, of life.”
I’m providing a link to O’Leary’s book here. I’m providing a link because I believe you should absolutely, positively, unequivocally, right now read this book. Go. Buy it. Read it.
The how is not what inspires us and drives us. The how leaves us depleted. It’s our why that continues to push us forward. It’s our why that gives us a reason to get out of bed on days we’d rather hide under the covers. As O’Leary writes, “When you know your why, you can endure any how.”
Most of the leaders in the Bible knew their why. Moses knew his task was to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt. If he had focused solely on the how, they never would have made it. Moses probably felt like throwing in the towel several times. But he had his why. God had called him to a task. Knowing his why allowed Moses to keep going, even when it seemed hopeless.
Paul knew his task was to preach to the Gentiles. It wasn’t easy. His life was threatened in almost every community. He was challenged, arrested, beaten and contradicted. However, Paul knew his why. He wrote it over and over in his letters to the Gentile churches. Jesus called him to preach to the Gentiles. Knowing his why allowed Paul to endure the physical abuse, emotional turmoil and mental exhaustion of his ministry. Knowing his why enabled Paul to follow the path that led to his execution and gave him the strength to proclaim the love of Christ the entire way.
Why is important. When I first began to think about my “why” statement, I thought of my family. Why do I do what I do? Because my family needs me. However, upon reflection, I realized that my family might not always be there. My kids are young now, but they won’t always be. I needed something deeper–something I could carry with me through all the phases of my life. I also needed simplicity. If it’s too complicated, I’m not doing it!
After a time of prayer, I came to this conclusion. Why do I get out of bed in the morning? Because God has work for me to do. While simple and not profound, this statement works form me. This statement inspires me. This statement propels me forward. This statement validates my “how”.
Why do I need to do the laundry? Because it’s the work God has given me to do today.
Why do I need to post something on my writer Facebook page? Because it’s the work God has given me to do today.
Why do I need to grind out a blog post? Because it’s the work God has given me to do today.
Why do I need to help with a church event? Because it’s the work God has given me to do today.
Do you see the power of the why?
Today, I want you to work on filling in the blanks in the passages below. Take time to carefully consider your responses. Pray over them. Ask God to illuminate your answer. Find your why.
Why do I ____________? Because _______________________________.
Blessings and Peace,