Simon Sinek made a big splash in management and organizational leadership a decade or so ago with his book and related TED Talk called Start With Why. Sinek’s basic idea was that shared purpose—the “why” behind what we do–is what ultimately motivates people to align with your organizational culture or brand.
Too often, he argues, organizations communicate “what” they do, when people really buy into the “why” behind the “what.” Sinek’s principle has led to a bit of a revolution in how organizations, including churches, communicate who they are.
Rick Warren applies a similar idea to individuals in his best-selling Christian book A Purpose Driven Life. There’s great truth behind this idea, and it’s an important principle to remember.
But what I’ve also discovered over the years, is that when we represent God, HOW we do what we do is just as important as the WHY behind it.
So I’ve been guided by three core values since my first year as a youth minister to help me get the HOW right. While I don’t always live up to them, these core values have served me well so far, so I thought I’d share them with you.
I try to approach each day, each task, and each opportunity with ENERGY, with EXCELLENCE, and with EXPECTATION. I wonder if you might try to do the same thing.
Wherever you go, whatever you do, do it with ENERGY, confident that God will renew your strength, because scripture teaches that God will (Isaiah 40:31).
ENERGY requires focus and priority. If we say yes to everything, then nothing will get the ENERGY it deserves. That means that committing to ENERGY as a value requires that we guard against being stretched too thin; that we be willing to say no to some things so that we can energetically say yes to the things most important to us; and that we give 100% to those most important things, knowing that our tanks will be replenished by a God of endurance and strength.
Wherever you go, whatever you do, do it with EXCELLENCE, as if you were doing it directly for God, because I believe you are. (Colossians 3:23)
If ENERGY requires that we choose the right things to do, EXCELLENCE requires that we choose to do them the right way. EXCELLENCE in what we do takes time, practice, and repetition. EXCELLENCE requires planning and the ability to learn. And EXCELLENCE requires diligence, patience and the willingness to be bad at something before we’re good at it. But in all that we do, God deserves nothing less than our very best.
Wherever you go, whatever you do, do it with the EXPECTATION that God will meet you in your work to encourage and uphold you, because I believe God will. (John 14:15-18)
Scripture promises that God will never leave us to face life’s challenges alone. In all the important work that you engage, remember that God is with you and prepared to help you. It’s amazing what can happen when we expect God to be present in all that we do.
Every day, my goal is to get up and approach the work I do personally with ENERGY, EXCELLENCE and EXPECTATION. As we start to serve together at Central my goal will be for everyone on our church staff—and all of our ministry volunteers and lay leaders—to approach their work with ENERGY, EXCELLENCE, and EXPECTATION, too.
I want our worship services to be characterized by ENERGY, EXCELLENCE, and EXPECTATION. I want our Bible study groups and missions projects to be marked by those qualities. And, I want our church members’ lives to be infused with ENERGY, EXCELLENCE and EXPECTATION away from church as well.
At church and at home, at work and at play, I want God to be so present in all of our lives that we can’t help but approach each day with God-inspired ENERGY, God-honoring EXCELLENCE and the EXPECTATION that God will be with us in all that we do.
We won’t always hit those marks, but we can always aspire to them. So write them on your daily calendar, put them on your bathroom mirror or stick them on the dashboard of your car. Live with them for a while and see if they help you, too.
When we bear Christ’s name, HOW we do things is nearly as important to our Christian witness as WHY we do them.