Everywhere I turn I hear another mission statement for some group. “This is what we are about.” Even when you meet new people, the first thing you hear about is what they do for a living. It’s not that what is not important; it’s just that what never clicks until you hit the why.
Why is like fuel.
One of the most famous stories in Hebrew Scripture is about a little guy named David that takes down a big giant named Goliath. That’s the what. Everybody knows the story. But the question is why?
Great stories always start with why.
What we find behind-the-scenes is an errand boy bringing some food to his older brothers serving in the army of the king. When he arrives the whole camp is shaking in their boots. Goliath is taunting and the people of God are afraid. So David shows up wide-eyed and fired up, fully assuming that someone is going to step up to the plate and take out the pagan bully. To his surprise, there are no volunteers, only excuses. When he calls his brothers on the carpet, they try to shut him up and send him away, but they only stir his passion further. Finally, he utters the kind of words that have the chemistry to change history:
Is there not a cause?
And the rest is history. Give me a man with a cause over a man with a skill any day of the week, because a man with a why will always find a way. Give me a woman with a cause over a woman with a mission statement. Give me a student with a cause over a student with “potential”.
Your cause answers your why question. Your cause addresses the holy sense of discontent that God uses like a clue for your call.
What drives you crazy? What is it that you simply cannot overlook? What injustice is too much to bear? What potential, if left unrealized, won’t let you sleep? It’s a clue. Are you searching for your purpose? Chances are, it is wrapped around the why question. And the answer to that why is loaded with some of your deepest frustration.
But it’s also confirmed with some of your deepest joy.
So go for it. Do the hard work of the soul and get down to the why?
Are you tired of growing weary? Start with why? Are you sick of going in circles? Figure out the why? Are you fed up with fruitless meetings? Begin with why? Is your business stagnating? Get back to the why? Are your employees underperforming? Communicate the why? Are your students bored with your lesson? Serve up some why? Is your marriage in a rut? Rediscover the why? Are you considering marriage? Identify the why? (And please don’t tell me your why is “it’s better to marry than to burn.”)
Write it down. Talk to God. Journal about it. Dialogue with your team about it.
And THEN you’ll be ready to answer the what question. But a what without a why will eventually suck the life right out of you.
Look at Jesus. Why would he live the kind of life we should have lived and die the kind of death we should have died? “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2) We were his why.
Go get your why.