by Hugh Whelchel

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. - James 1:5

“How do I know _______________ (fill in the blank),” is a question I often get when I speak around the country.

How do I know what God wants me to do?
How do I know what my calling is?

I also get a lot of questions that begin with “What”:

What should I study at school?
What does God want me to do in this circumstance?

You get the picture…

While these are all very important questions, I want to suggest that there is an even more important question we should all be asking first and it starts with “Why."

Asking Why Makes All The Difference

Take a few minutes to watch this four minute video on YouTube where Comedian Michael Jr. clearly illustrates the importance of getting to “Why.”

The second version of “Amazing Grace” is radically different from the first one because it comes from a different place. It come from the heart, whereas the first version comes from the head. What Michael Jr. is suggesting in his humorous segment is that the answer to the “Why” question comes from a very different place from the answers to “How” and “What” questions.

God Is the Ultimate “Why”

C.S. Lewis attaches godly purpose to our question of “Why” in his Reflections on the Psalms:

The Scotch catechism says that man’s chief end is “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” But we shall then know that these are the same thing. Fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.

Lewis’s answer to this short catechism question defines not only the reason for our very existence, but for the existence of the whole creation. In the opening pages of the Bible, we find the first hint of God’s original intent—the Why—for his creation.

God’s purpose in creation was that he would be glorified by everything he created. This is why God describes the finished creation on the sixth day of the creation story as “very good.” Just as a great painting reflects the glory of the master artist, the new-born creation perfectly reflects the glory of God. He created everything for His glory, including man, the crown jewel of creation.

When we reflect God’s glory, we are doing what we were created to do.

Tim Keller brings [this idea] together in this passage from his book, Walking with God through Pain and Suffering,

It fits to glorify God—it not only fits reality, because God is infinitely and supremely praiseworthy, but it fits us as nothing else does. All the beauty we have looked for in art or faces or places—and all the love we have looked for in the arms of other people—is only fully present in God himself. And so in every action by which we treat him as glorious as he is, whether through prayer, singing, trusting, obeying, or hoping, we are at once giving God his due and fulfilling our own design.

How do I know what God wants me to do? Start by asking “Why.”

CLS Prayer

Dear God, Please remind me daily of the Why in my life when I am seeking to know the What. And remind me what I already know, that You are worthy of all praise and worship and glory. Amen.


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Hugh Whelchel is Executive Director of the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics ( and author of How Then Should We Work?: Rediscovering the Biblical Doctrine of Work. CLS works with the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics (IFWE) to provide thoughtful and inspiring devotionals to CLS members. IFWE is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) Christian research organization committed to promoting biblical and economic principles that help individuals find fulfillment in their work and contribute to a free and flourishing society.