Why Worry About "Why?"

Check out more from LynnIn 1997, five years before Rick Warren penned The Purpose Driven Life, career counselor and executive coach Richard Leider published The Power of Purpose: Creating Meaning in Your Life and Work. Considered a classic in the field of personal development, this book and his eight others have sold over one million copies and have been translated into twenty languages.
As the founder of Inventure-The Purpose Company, Richard has championed the passionate pursuit of on-purpose living with over 100,000 leaders in world-class companies. His influence is about to increase exponentially; he was tapped by AARP to be the Chief Curator of content for the organization's Life Reimagined Institute, inspired by his book Life Reimagined, co-authored with Alan Webber.
It was an earlier Leider book, however, that forever endeared me to this gentle man and his purposeful work. Just reading the title, Repacking Your Bags: Lighten Your Load for the Rest of Your Life, spoke solace to my heavy heart in 1994. I didn't then have the perspective, much less the languaging, for what I was experiencing, but this Leider guy got me. I was without purpose, in the "nowhere between two somewheres," as one life chapter was sputtering to a close and my "next" was not yet visible. I couldn't travel to exciting new vistas of possibility, he persuaded, if I didn't jettison worn-out ways of seeing, being and doing that my self and soul had outgrown.   

I could not then have imagined that nine years later, I would be a coach, running my own business, and speaking at the same coaching conference for which Dick Leider was the keynote speaker! He taught our circle of coaches how to ask questions which would uncover, refine, or renew a client's purpose. We learned how to integrate their "why" (purpose) into a compelling "what" (vision) and a viable "how" (plan). Most importantly, we reviewed our own purpose statements, and held our lives up to those templates. Were our investments of time and attention an exemplary expression of our gifts, passions, and values? Were we modeling lives being lived "on purpose?"
In The Power of Purpose, Richard describes how he asks older adults this question:
"If you could live your life over again, what would you do differently?"
The answers always theme around these three things:

* Be more reflective
* Be more courageous
* Be clear earlier about purpose
Leider states, "It's tempting to ignore the question of purpose in life, since the consequences of our neglect usually don't show up until crisis points or toward the very end of our lives. Thus, we unconsciously spend much of our energy staying busy, building a lifestyle and making a living. Yet, when we scratch under the surface of our drive for making a living, what's there?"
Coaching claims space for more reflection, more courage, and more clarity around purpose, no matter what goal or issue is identified at the outset. Because purpose is our reason for being, our "why," it's not a stretch to say that reaching most goals ultimately depends upon a strong connection to purpose.
A goal anchored in or pointing to purpose helps us push through our habitual patterns, inertia, and resistance to change. If there's a direct link between what we want to achieve and why we believe we are here, now, in this one wondrous, God-given precious life, we'll get there with less angst. If a case can't be made that reaching a particular goal will bring us more fully into our best selves and highest use, we'll run out of gas when fear and lethargy hijack our good intentions.
That said, I have deep respect for those sacred and mysterious times in each of our lives when passion fades, purpose feels elusive, and goals seem pointless. It is during those days (weeks, months, years) of waiting and wondering that the companionship of a coach can be most transformative.
If you want to pursue purpose in your own life, or support a coachee in that quest, the link below is a great starting point for productive dialogue:
I'll sign off by sharing my recently re-crafted purpose statement, and thanking you for allowing me to live my purpose through our coaching collaboration.
"The purpose of my life is to bring light, depth, and heart to my beloveds, my clients, and my community."


Copyright © 2013 by Lynn Schoener


Where Have You Seen God Lately?

Over the years, it has become a part of Higher Ground’s culture to talk about where they are seeing God at work in their lives. It is a rhythm we try to incorporate in lifeGroups, retreats, mission trips, and service projects. We ask, “Where did you see God show up?” or “What is God teaching you?”. We also ask my favorite question, “How did God surprise you?”.  

One thing that I am realizing is that the more we ask this question and make it a part of our rhythm, the more students are able to recognize God when He speaks to them and nudges them.  They aren’t just noticing God at work, but also noticing when God is asking them to partner in His work.  Over the years, the answer to the question “where have you seen God at work” has become more than just a list of good things students are experiencing. It has become a platform for students to identify and share ways they have responded to God’s nudging.

Sometimes, using the same question over and over can feel monotonous. Or, maybe you have already tried asking your family or loved ones this question and didn’t get a lot of response. Below are some different ways to ask others [and perhaps yourself] to reflect on how they have seen God working in their lives, without having to default to same one question all the time. I’d love to know which question you like the best, and what kind of response you received.

  • Where have you seen God working in your life recently?  
  • How did you see God show up today?  
  • What has God been teaching you?
  •  How is God challenging/shaping you right now?
  •  What are you praying for?
  •  What do you want to celebrate?
  •  Where did you experience joy/goodness/kindness/love/peace/gentleness/self-control/faithfulness today?
  • How have you seen grace lived out recently?

This new year, I would challenge you to make this question a part of your family’s everyday lives. Perhaps you ask it at dinner each night, or as you drive to and from school. Maybe it is a question you ask at bedtime and use the responses to frame your prayers. However you choose to weave this question into your family’s rhythm, I am certain that using it will help to strengthen your faith and trust in Jesus. Try it!


A New Page


2014 has ended.  2015 begins.  I can’t seem to shake the stanza from my head: 

Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
and our eternal home.”

        #123 The Lutheran Hymnal

What have we accomplished together? Where has He been leading us? What adjustments in our journey is God prompting us to make in 2015?   

I’m encouraged by your stories of where you have seen God working.  Go to www.livelifetogether.com/stories to read or share your own. I grow in depth of understanding when I read your insights or aha moments in your journey.  Please tell us at tellus@livelifetogether.com. I love seeing your photos. Keep ‘em coming at pics@livelifetogether.com. We’ve shared a few from 2014 on our facebook page.

We are realizing our vision of One Church, Regional Impact.  We are connecting people to Life in Jesus… 1 person, 1 neighborhood, 1 region at a time. 

My hope for each of us who associate yourself with this community of believers, seekers and observers is that you would ALL discover your own story and share it. There is blessing that comes from doing what you were made to do. God created us to BE the Church, not just COME to church.

In 2015 we will be encouraging you to find your passion, roll up your sleeves and discover the joy of participating in YOUR STORY. I’m excited to see where God takes us in 2015 and look forward to reading YOUR story this year.


Third Place

Part of living a missional life with gospel intentionality is having a third place.  Often people hang out at home, at work and then somewhere else becomes their third place. My husband and I had dinner with a couple who have made a local restaurant their third place.  They go there almost every Monday night and they over time have built relationships with some of the staff and other regular customers.  There is something to going to the same place at the same time and over time you have established a bit of a community where you can listen to the stories of other people and bring Jesus with you.  Where is your third place?

Courage and Calling

“Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. . . . Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life” Galatians 6: 4-5 (The Message).


Isn’t it interesting how generosity enlarges?  It expands the giver as well as the receiver; the spiritual along with the physical, those directly involved and the ones around them.


In Courage and Calling: Embracing Your God-Given Potential (call number 248.4 Smi in the church library), Gordon Smith proposes that our generous God gives each of us a reason for being on earth, a calling, as well as the ability to work with Him in carrying it out. God longs for us to experience the joy of giving by loving each other through our calling. But understanding our purpose as it matures through life, and discerning how to live it most effectively, is challenging. Smith’s book grew out of many conversations around these questions, and is a study for those who want to invest their talents for God.


The book outlines three ways calling can be understood:

  1. The call to be a Christian, to follow Jesus.

  2. A specific call: a reason for being, or vocation, unique for each of us, which may or may not be expressed in our occupation.

  3. Immediate calling: specific duties and responsibilities we are given by God at the present time, such as caring for family members or job responsibilities.


Specific and immediate calls flow from our first call, our identity as God’s children, and all three are “in play” at any given time. For example, we are all called by Jesus to love others. I might express that love by feeding the hungry on an ongoing basis. If I have young children, I will have less time to participate in a soup kitchen than when they are older, but I will be living out my entire calling by not ignoring any of the three at each stage of my life.


The primary focus of this book is on the second call, and discusses three aspects of vocation:  knowing ourselves, discerning the work we’ve been given to do in the world, and acting with intention to carry it out.  

Knowing ourselves: God calls us to serve Him out of who we are, not who we’re not.  What are your gifts, abilities and personality? What are your deepest desires? Where do you sense the needs of the world most acutely?

Thinking vocationally: Looking back to see how God has worked through the story of our lives, and paying attention to opportunities now, can help us recognize our vocation more clearly. Is there a thread God has woven through your life, a chord that has always resonated?

Acting intentionally:  Living out our calling requires action.


When we recognize how God has fitted us into the world, serving and giving to others out of His design brings joy – to us, to others, and to God.  What a great revelation as we reflect on Christ’s arrival here on Earth and the model He is for us, and as we begin to think about the new year!


How will you embrace the place God has carved out for you in the world this year?