“Because you need to.”
“Because it’s healthy and because you need to!”
If you’ve ever had this conversation in your life, my guess is that you’ve parented a child old enough to use words. This basic conversation gets repeated with all three of my kids (3, 8, 11) throughout the day with everything from teeth brushing to veggie eating. It can get exhausting to explain things over and over again. The first time I was asked “Why?” I’m sure I took the time to painstakingly explain the health benefits of keeping one’s teeth clean or consuming leafy greens. But after the first few times, I fell back on the traditional, super-fast, completely ineffective, “Because I said so, just do it already!”
The deed might get done but the only lesson learned is that asking “Why?” repeatedly might make Mom mad.
As we lead our families or serve in ministry, the “Why?” question will come up often. Why do we have to do devotionals as a family? Why do we have to go to church on Wednesday night? Why do we have to read our Bible? Why do we need to have intergrated church service times? Why? Why? Why?
There might be part of us that wants to say, “Because we need to and God wants us to, so just do it already!” But that is just as ineffective as the parenting line above.
Here’s a few things we need to recognize about that “Why?” question as we lead families and ministries.
1. Why Questions reveal a Heart
When your kids ask why they have to eat broccoli, it’s not because they don’t know why. You’ve explained it and they have heard it. What they are really saying is, “I hate eating broccoli! Why are you making me do something I don’t like to do?” If you are getting asked that about the discipleship or faith formation activities in your life, the worst thing you can do is brush that aside. You are getting a peek into their heart. For whatever reason, this activity has become one that they dislike. You may be weary of the “Why?” question but try to hear the heart behind it and ask God for wisdom on how to speak to the heart.
2. Why Questions reveal a Need
Sometimes “Why?” is asked because there is a genuine lack of understanding why it is needed. I had an older lady in church once sit me down and ask, “Why do our parents keep asking for family-oriented activities and discipleship?” She was interested in understanding why we were integrating services and holding family faith formation nights instead of kids clubs. We ended up talking for about 15 minutes about everything from Sunday school to faith talks and by the end, she better understood the need our parents had and WHY we were addressing it they way we were in our church. Sometimes we think because we’ve explained things once or twice before, our kids or congregation should “get it” but in reality, we must be in a place of consistently explaining and championing the needs we are desiring to meet.
3. Why Questions reveal a Desire
Even if spoken in the all-too-familiar whiny tone of a child being forced to do something ghastly like bathing or cleaning their room, the fact that the question “Why?” is being asked reveals a desire for legitimacy. Kids want a legitimate reason WHY they should spend their valuable time on such things. Your family wants a legitimate and meaningful reason to engage in discipleship together. Your church family wants legitimate reasons for cross-gen services and family ministry programming.
If the only reason you are doing something is because “it’s the right thing to do”, I urge you to take some time and seek the Lord and examine your own heart to ensure what you are doing is what God wants you to be doing. Doing things just to do things isn’t healthy for you, for your family, or for your church. Doing things with intention and purpose as you follow the Lord’s leading is the only healthy way for you to grow and to answer the “Why’s” you will be faced with.
One of my favorite parenting verses is Galations 6:9,
“Let us not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we do not give up.”
It can get wearying to answer the “Whys” all day long. It is so much easier to say, “Because I said so” than to engage and converse. But if we persevere in sharing the answer to the “Whys”, eventually it will bear the fruit of blessing in our lives and in the lives of those we are serving and sharing life with.
And one day, the answers you have shared in love and consistency will be the answers your kids share with their kids, your church members share with new believers, and your family shares with friends around them.
So do not become weary. WHY, you may ask? Because there is a bountiful harvest of blessing to come and a God who is walking with you, every step of the way.