According the business and leadership guru, Simon Sinek, the first step to greatness is knowing “why.” Great leaders know their personal why, their organization’s why and the why for each of their subordinates. According to Sinek, you really can’t move forward until you know your why.
Great leaders, Sinek insists, are always asking “why?”
I guess that means I raised two genius sons. Both of them were always asking “why?”
“Daddy, why do we stand so much in church?”
“Daddy, why do I have to go to Sunday School? You don’t”.
“Daddy, why is the sky blue? Why is the sun hot? Daddy, would you still love me if I was invisible?”
Sometimes, Jeannie and I would crawl in to bed at night and both complained that our ears were tired from listening to our boys all day.
I thought about this after being with our granddaughters for several days. The oldest one is now three and, just like her dad, she wants to know why.
“Why is your face scratchy?”
“Why do you wear glasses? Why does the dog always lick me? Why is the sky blue?”
You know the drill.
On my way home, I thought about all of the “why” questions I know I should ask. I have a lot of them.
“Why is there so much suffering in the world?”
“How can a loving God let so many bad things happen in our world and why do so many of them happen to children?”
“Why do so many of my friends know things are wrong and know will hurt them and their families, but then do them anyway?”
Like anybody, I have a lot of questions. I just don’t ask them anymore. I’m older now and I guess, I’m wiser now. I’m not sure what that means. I know I say, “that’s just the way is” more than I used to. Once you see things enough, you start seeing patterns. Right or wrong, the world just seems to work a certain way and well, that’s just the way it is.
I know there are talented young men and women who, because of the side of town they were born on, don’t have a chance. We can say all we want about how America is the land of opportunity, but we all know that’s not true.In our world, if you can afford a good attorney, you have a better chance of not going to jail. If you can’t afford a good attorney, you’re going to jail…we only argue about how long. College admissions, career opportunities, access to financial structures all depend on who you know…or who your parents know.
I know it shouldn’t be that way, but it is. But why? I don’t know and I don’t ask why that much anymore.
I guess I’m getting old.
And that’s a problem.
Jesus taught if we don’t become like little children, we can’t enter into the kingdom. I think one of the reasons is little children never stop asking why. Why questions force us to speak our assumptions and sometimes, when we speak our assumptions out loud, they don’t make any sense. Then, you are forced to name the assumptions behind your assumptions and finally get to the point of realizing that, yes, things are this way, but they don’t have to be.
And this realization, finally saying out loud that things don’t have to be this way, opens up the door for faith. OK, maybe it just cracks the window a little for faith, but nonetheless, faith gives you a chance.
But then, you’re responsible. Now, once you begin to think that things really could be different, then aren’t we obligated to at least try? I think so. After all, James reminds us that if we know what’s good and don’t do it, that’s sin.
Ah, now we’re to the heart of it. Most of us stopped asking why because we really don’t believe Jesus can do anything about the way things are. Look around. How many churches really believe Jesus can do anything about racism? About poverty?
As we approach Easter, let’s remind ourselves that the resurrection not only defeats Death, but every expression of death. All of those things that keep us from being fully alive, fully human – Christ has defeated them all.
Children still believe. Children still ask “why?” It’s the rest of us, those of us who’ve grown old with despair that have stopped asking questions.
And who know find out things really could be different if we’d only believe that Jesus can, and will, be that difference.
So, give yourself permission to be a kid again. Ask why and don’t be surprised if they take you to Jesus Himself. After all, He’s asking the same question.