If You Want the Right Answers, Ask the Right Questions.


Last week, I received my most recent full-color large-stock corporate mailer postcard from the local “Christian, Inc.” On one side is a picture of a young man looking quite hip sitting against a wall and just sort of staring out in into space. The caption in big bold letters was “WHY AM I HERE?” And there was this forced rustic overlay made to look like the card was old. This seems to be a very common theme and I’m guessing it is an attempt at putting the card on par with the ancient vaporware this business uses as its main product. My first response upon finding it among my weekly grocery ads and my awaited ebay find was “yeah… why are you here?… this is my mailbox and I never asked for you.” But then the real purpose of the question began to bother me.

The business is named “Abundant Life Fellowship.” On the backside of the card was a map and a very snazzy logo under the heading “Find Answers to the Greatest Questions in Life.” The name of the Sunday recruitment event was “Living Life on Purpose.” Wow! Lots of use of the word “life” here. As in “get a life.” Literally. I mean, what level of desperation does one need to be in to find their answers in ancient superstitions? Sadly, all types. From the struggling single mother to the successful businessman and father, many people are very similarly situated in their struggles with life’s big questions. Although you’d think they’d want REAL answers. You know, being as real answers help to solve real problems and are for the most part real cheap and really really interesting.

So I began thinking about how we ended up in this situation. Here in my area alone, several different corporate-type churches exist in strip malls. And there’s one that rents space every week at the local movie theater. They each have a snazzy logo and catchy slogan. And they all promise answers to life’s “greatest questions.” Questions they themselves put into people’s heads with their incessant mailers. Answers that ALWAYS begin with the word “why.”  And this is precisely how they trick people. They promise answers to the WRONG QUESTIONS. Think for a moment about the question “why am I here?” If you are a critical thinker at all, you’ve already realized that a question that begins with “why” implies intent. If I ask a carpenter why he uses a hammer, I will get a very different answer than if I ask HOW he uses a hammer. The answer to the why question will help us to understand what the carpenter intends to do. The answer to the how question will help us understand what his hammer actually does. If I want to know how to hammer a nail myself, I would be better off asking how to do it then why I should do it. I can decide on the why all by myself.

The same goes for my life. And if we’re talking about our origins – as in how we got here – I’d be much better off asking HOW I got here. Once I know how I got here, the why falls into place. Even if that means accepting that there is no why answer concerning my origins. Although there are plenty of whys concerning my present position and my future plans. These things require some thought and decision-making. Things which, unlike our origins, are full of why questions. I know why I want the things I want. I know why I need the things I need. And I know why I do [most of] the things I do. Where I can use some help is knowing better HOW to get these things done. Before I ask such a silly question as “why am I here?,” I’ll first ask “how did I get here?” I figure I’ll ask the right questions being as I want the right answers.

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