“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”
Luke 19:10 NIV
Too often we are driven to give the details of a plan long before we give the reasons why we are doing it in the first place. Some churches are so staffed so organized they can hammer out the details and fill in the blanks almost at first glance. These organizations normally enter into endeavors based on the ‘we can’ and ‘here’s how’ mentality.
Often never asking or understanding the reason ‘why?’. Other organizations with fewer resources and fewer capable staff members cast vision for the ‘how’ so they can strategize and organize a movement to ‘get it done’ and they to make the mistake of never asking the question ‘why?’
The greatest question we must answer before we choose a direction, task, or seek to enlist people or resources into something is; ‘Why?’.
Notice how Paul tells his reader the reason why they do what they do:
For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. 2 Cor 5:14-15 NIV
Did you see how emphatic Paul is in answering the ‘Why?’ they do what they are doing? Why always comes before how.
I recently spoke with a Christian school administrator who was tasked with carrying out a board’s request to move a school past the devastating effects of a key leader’s moral failure. The moral failure was in no way the school’s fault but because of a lack of leadership, it had become the school’s fault. This administrator had made the same mistake other segregated leaders make when made to stand out front as a group of unleaders tells him what to say. He cast a vision to make education better. More computers, more privileges, higher ACT scores were all promised.
Again the ‘how’ was cast as the reason for doing what the school was doing. The school is destined to die, not because of moral failure but because of vision thirst. This leader and this school have failed to answer the question: Why?.
The Why is the Motivation
Why are we a school? Why is it important to continue what we do? Why do we sacrifice? ‘How’ doesn’t motivate people to sacrifice at a high level. A marine doesn’t climb out of a fox hole and charges a machine gun nest, knowing he will most likely die, because he understands the mechanics of hill climbing. No, he does it because in him the question ‘Why?’ has already been answered. He does it because he is a part of a team, because he is plugged into something great because he sees his place in the greater good. He knows the reason why. So he steps with confidence into the greatest sacrifice. Answering the question of why will cause people to sacrifice at the highest level.
I don’t know, we’ll figure it out
Many of my staff make fun of my visionary approach. They poke fun at the phrase I use all the time: “I don’t know, we’ll figure it out.” They make fun of that phrase because of how often I use it. I use it often because I see the ‘Why’ being the main thing and the how will come. Jesus was not near as systematic as we are in answering all the questions around the why. He simply sent people by saying ‘Go’, ‘Why’ they would ask, ‘because I am sending you’ He would respond. That was enough.
If you have the Why settled strongly in your mind and heart you will figure out the how. If you don’t have the why settled the how doesn’t matter because at some point the difficulties and roadblocks of the journey will cause you to quit anyway. If you find yourself with lots of undone work, you will also discover you have yet to fully answer the ‘why?’ of what you are doing.
Is the Board Happy?
Most church leaders today are not visionary leaders who see themselves as the lone agent to answer the question ‘why?’ Most church leaders see answering to a board, and maintaining a job as their keeper instead of seeing themselves answering to the vision. So the gauges they look at are ‘is the board happy?’, ‘do I get to keep my job?’, ‘do I get a raise?’ these are who they answer to. And the church dies for lack of vision. Vision should be the lone gauge.
I have been asked ‘Why’ do we do what we do at That.Church. It is easily answered. Why we do what we do is: Because we love God more than anyone or anything else, and because we don’t want anyone to go to hell. We are here to put Hell out of business. Our vision and mission is to save every person that is lost and to reverse the damage of the enemy. Those are easy gauges to look at and monitor our progress.
Is God the most important person in everything we say and do?
Are we saving that which is lost?
Are we loving God or caving into people’s expectations?
Are people still going to hell in our community?
Are families still breaking up?
Are drugs still the dominant question in our community?
Are people downloading porn?
Are we still spending more on dog food than we are missions?
Are there still hungry in our community?
Are people lonely?
Is Hell still in business?
Then we still have work to do.