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Start with Why
by Estee in

Last week, a group of young families at church got together for what is becoming our monthly dinner and dialogue. We've met twice now and I am grateful for the friendships that I am making! The purpose of our get-togethers is to grow in our spiritual lives along with other Christians.

My thought is that if our goal is spiritual growth, then we have to figure out where we are starting from. This month, we tried to get our arms around our individual starting points by asking the question: why? Why am I a Christian? What is my purpose? What makes my soul-sing?

These are big questions and we don't all have answers yet. The basic question is prompted by a book my husband Jason and I are reading called "Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action." It isn't a spiritual or religious book -- it actually has more to do with leadership and marketing. But it has implications for everyone. The basic premise is that most people make meaning by starting with "what" -- a description of what they do. But great leaders, people who inspire and provoke creativity and innovation, start with "why" -- why their organization or product exists. They start with a solid understanding of why they do the things they do.

I think Christians are really good at starting with "what" -- we understand our spiritual journey in terms of what we do -- pray, worship, read the bible, etc. But rarely do we think about why we are Christian -- why we are called to do the things we do. One question that Adam Hamilton, pastor of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, KS asks that I think is right on target here is: "why do people need the church?"

What difference does being a Christian make?

One reason I think it is so important to have some kind of an answer to this question is that other Christians are much better at answering this question than Methodists. Other Christians can be in-your-face with their answer to this question, the typical response being something like -- "Being a Christian saves me from hell." And then they try to save you too. And they believe this so strongly that they push it a little too hard, and many people are turned off of the whole church.

We need to do a better job at giving our reason for believing. And I think the reasons of people who find themselves in a United Methodist church are much more nuanced and complex. Why are you a Christian? Why do people need the church?

Another interesting piece of this discussion is that it is difficult for our brain to answer the question. In the book, author Simon Sinek describes how our limbic brain controls our feelings, our behavior and our decision making. However, this part of our brain has no capacity for language. That’s why it is hard to put our feelings into words. He gives the example of explaining why we married who we married. We have a hard time putting our reasons into words, so we rationalize it and describe the person instead – “I married him because he’s funny, or smart,” etc. But the real reason isn’t just this – there are plenty of smart, funny people in the world. If pressed, we might say something that doesn’t sound rational like, “she completes me” or “because I love him.” We have a hard time getting to our true motivations for our decisions; we have a hard time explaining why we do what we do.

But I think as Christian people living in the world we are living in today, we’ve got to try! It takes work, but we’ve got to find ways to articulately express ourselves so that others might hear and join us.

So, there's a challenge for you. What's your why? What gives your life purpose? If you go to church, why do you go?

If you are interested in this, you might want to watch this video of Simon Sinek, the author of the book I'm reading, explain things in his own words:


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