I think one of the most commonly asked questions in the English language is a question most of us don’t really ask because we’re curious about the answer. In fact, I think it would be safe to say that a huge percentage of the time, we already know the answer we’re going to get before we ask. The answer to the question is almost as automatic as the asking. When we see someone we know in a grocery store or a coffee shop. It’s only natural that we ask, and so … we do ask. We inquire with a generic interrogative: “How are you doing?”
The answer is most often, “Fine. Great. Doing well.” Or some derivative of that answer. All languages and cultures have similar common greetings, questions and answers that serve to set the stage for a conversation about life, and where we are in the journey, and perhaps, the general state of our being.
As a pastor and life coach who spends more than a little bit of time in conversations with people about ‘how-are-you-doing?’ kinds of issues, I ask lots of questions — questions that I hope will help people explore their lives, where they want to go, and how they’d like to get there. The greatest passion of my life is helping people get from where they are … to where God wants them to be.
And so … not always, but often, I greet an unsuspecting soul I meet with, not with a ‘how’ question. Instead, I ask a ‘what’ question. Not ‘How are you doing?’ but instead, “What are you doing?” You see, if ask “How are you doing?” — not always, but almost always, the answer is “Fine.” Without thinking. Without wondering, or pondering, or even doing a cursory examination of the answer to that “How are you doing?” question, the answer is virtually always, “Fine.”
But when I change just one word, and instead of asking “How’s your life?,” I ask: “What are you doing with your life?” the entirety of the conversation takes an interesting twist. “What am I doing with my life?” asks my friend. Then, a chuckle. A look that says, “There’s no automatic answer to that question; I’ll actually have to think about my answer.”
And thinking about what I’m doing with my life is a very good thing.
Often, that kind of self-examination brings with it a certain self-condemnation, as we think about all we’d like to do, or wish we could do. But the essence of a successful answer to that “What are you doing with your life” doesn’t rest in what we wish we could do, but instead a determination to be actively pursuing what we are equipped by God to do, because of his provision and giftings in our lives.
Leonardo Da Vinci said, “Let him who cannot do things he would — will to do that he can. To will is foolish where there’s no power to do. That man is wise who, if he cannot, does not wish he could.” Wishing I could do more is a futile exercise.
So, a ‘coaching’ question to help encourage you in your journey: What are you doing with your life, this week? If you need a roadmap or a great template for living a life that is filled with incredible opportunity and reward? Here are the words from The Book:
I Peter 4:7
The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”