You may be surprised to learn that questions about feline phobias were actually some of the most popular posed to Google in 2017. Whether you were among the tens of thousands who enquired about the animal’s relationship to vegetables or not, then you will certainly agree that there are plenty of ‘Why?’ questions out there. Some are definitely more important than others.
‘Why?’ is the question that rings incessantly in the ears of parents who have young children. As growing minds start to explore the world around them and their role within it, they need to ask questions that will help them make sense of the expanse of people and things they encounter each day.
It’s fundamental to our development as individuals and communities, too. ‘Why?’ is also a good question to ask if you find you’ve lost your focus on a project of activity. Just as it helps toddlers to find their place in the world, it helps us to understand our position within the milieu of daily life.
Get back to basics
If you’re running a social action project, then ‘Why?’ can be a great question for you to keep asking yourself. It can be all too easy to get bogged down in the detail of what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. Then before you realise it, everything can become very process and outcome-driven and the core essence of why you even embarked on the project in the first case can become lost in the busyness of life.
If you’re familiar with the TED Talk series, then you may have come across management theorist Simon Sinek, whose talk ‘Start with Why’ (18 min) has been viewed more than 40 million times. In it, he emphatically encourages business leaders to focus not just on what they do but on why they do it. This, he claims, is the key to engaging people in your own journey.
But we don’t think that it’s a question purely for business leaders, we think it’s a question for leaders of church-led social action projects too, and indeed any organisation who is acting in response to their faith.
Love changes everything
As a church, why do you engage in social action? You may want to see stronger families, safer communities, less social isolation and more cohesion – but these are actually outcomes and not the motivation in themselves. Our motivation comes from somewhere completely different. It comes from Jesus.
When the disciples questioned Jesus about what the greatest commandment was he said simply, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ ” (Matthew 22:37-39).
Setting targets, outcomes and aims are all good. In fact, they’re essential for the success of social action projects. But when our motivation is founded in the love of Jesus, the whole perspective of what we’re doing shifts; it becomes about God and not about us.
Love indeed really does change everything.
Reset your motivation
As you start this new season – perhaps it’s time to reset your motivation and to turn your eyes back to Christ. As we set about planning, preparing and reaching out, we really want to encourage you to set the foundations of your initiative firmly in God’s love. When you are tuned in to Him and His love – your ‘why?’ will take care of itself.