As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. Matthew 9:9
I joined a friend, Roger Gum, last night who did an interesting and challenging presentation on discipleship. He played a video by Simon Sinek, one of the most viewed of all TED talks, and it really has nothing to do with Christianity per se.
Instead, it focuses on great leaders – the things they have in common that most of us get wrong. It is called the Golden Circles– there are three of them. In the center small circle is the word “Why”. In the second concentric circle is the word “How” and in the last circle is the word “What”.
So far, so good. Sinek goes on to explain that we usually get stuck on the How and What, but often not the Why. When it comes to Christianity, we focus on what we do and how we do it, but we don’t often focus on the Why. Yet, it is the Why that makes you do what you do.
For me, the illustration was profound. When it comes to discipleship, we usually focus on the What – we tell the unchurched what the benefits of becoming a Christian: you get eternal life and a relationship with Jesus. We think about How we are going to communicate the benefits as a way of attracting others.
Yet it is the “Why?” that drives leaders. Why are you a Christian? If you can’t answer that, then the “How” and “What” are irrelevant, particularly to the next generation. The next generation is highly self-focused – they want to know “what’s in it for me?”
We approach them with the outer two circles, trying to show them the benefits of becoming a Christian. We often skip over the “Why”.
So, what is your “Why”? Roger asked that last night, and it made me think and reflect. The answer to that simple question is really why I do what I do.
When Jesus asked Matthew to “follow me”, we can surmise that Matthew knew “Why” he should follow: Jesus was the Messiah. He didn’t need to ask the “How” or the “What”. He just followed.
We spend so much time on connecting with the non-Christian world in the circles of the What and the How, but seldom dwell on the Why. Yet understanding your “Why?” gives you a purpose.
Simply stated, my “Why?” is that I believe in the empty tomb. That Jesus is the Son of God and was resurrected. The evidence is compelling, even to a non-believer. Yet in evangelism, we start with the What and How, asking leading questions like “What will happen to you if you die tonight?”
Answering the Why in your life answers the question of why you follow Jesus and do what you do. For me, it answers the fundamental question of why I write this blog, or mentor men. Writing the Blog is really a part of the “How” and What”, but it is driven by the “Why”.
It also explains why I will be getting on an airplane today to fly half across the world to Nairobi, Kenya. I will be speaking on mentoring the next generation, and on MentorLink’s principles of leading like Jesus.
My friend, Bishop Patrick Maithya, asked me to speak at one of his churches in Nairobi. I have spoken there before, but this time I asked what topic he would like me to teach. His answer: False Teachers.
There are lots of topics that I would rather talk about – most of them are in my comfort zone. Ask me to speak on millennials to Africans? No problem. Ask me to speak on False Teachers in Africa? Big problem.
Which bring me back to the “Why”. I understand and respect Patrick’s choice of topic, because False Leaders are a major problem in sub-Saharan Africa. It’s actually a cultural thing – many of the problems in Africa, for example, do not exist in India (they have their own problems).
In my preparation, I learned that False Teachers are discussed throughout the New Testament. It appears in every book of the New Testament, except two (Philemon and James).
But it is not taught – either here or in Africa. When did you hear a sermon on False Teachers? I rest my case.
The challenge here is for you to think about your “Why”. Once you have that nailed down, you can be strategic with the How and What. Many in the next generation often recoil when presented with the How and What. They see a lot of evil in the world. They are not attracted to what we describe as the benefits of being a Christian.
Yet the conversation may change when you introduce the “Why?” of your life. As Andy Stanley said, I will follow anyone who announces his resurrection and pulls it off. That’s a compelling case that needs to be made to the next generation.
MENTOR TAKEAWAY: Be sure your mentee knows your “Why”.
RESOURCES: Simon Sinek’s video on Golden Circles.
WORSHIP: Listen to In Christ Alone by Passion.
For more information about MentorLink, go to www.mentorlink.org.
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