Finding Your Big “Why?”

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven. — Matthew 5:16

Video: Finding Your Big “Why?”

Play the video teaching segment for session one. As you watch, record any thoughts or concepts that stand out to you in the outline that follows.


One of the oldest questions known to humans might very well be, “Why am I here?”

Summum bonum is a Latin expression meaning “the highest good” — an end in itself that also encompasses all other goods in life.

Karen’s mentor believes that we are on Earth for two reasons: to have a relationship with God, who offers us a place in Heaven, and to take every opportunity to point others to Jesus so they will spend eternity in Heaven too.

Although Jesus was the Son of God and on a very big mission, Jesus was never too busy to notice. He lived alert.

Jesus wasn’t about doing big things. He was about doing the right thing. And often for Him, the right thing was noticing one simple soul. Mark 5:21-34 tells the story of the synagogue ruler Jairus and the woman with the bleeding disorder. We learn from this story the following:

  • Jesus didn’t draw attention to Himself. Scripture simply says, “So Jesus went with him.”
  • The simple, frantic touch of the woman did not escape Jesus’ notice.
  • The woman in this story wasn’t important, as Jairus was. We aren’t told her title or even her name.
  • Jesus is calling us to live alert. For Jesus, ministry usually was the person He found standing right in front of Him.

We need to make relationships our big “Why?” We need to learn to value people over possessions. And value people over positions.

“When you are in the final days of your life, what will you want? Will you hug that college degree in the walnut frame? Will you ask to be carried to the garage so you can sit in your car? Will you find comfort in rereading your financial statement? Of course not. What will matter then will be people. If relationships will matter most then, shouldn’t they matter most now?” — Max Lucado

How do we behave if relationships are our “Why?” for being alive?

We need to learn to hear a heart drop: to listen between the lines when someone is speaking, to really hear their heart.

When loving others, we must keep in mind Matthew 5:14-16:

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven.

We don’t do good works in order to be noticed. We don’t do them to say, “Look at me!” We do them in order to say, “Well, will you look at Him!”

Here is an upside-down truth: if you want to find your life, first you need to lose it. Matthew 16:25 urges,

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh!” he whispered. “Yes, Piglet?” “Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw. “I just wanted to be sure of you.” ~ A. A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner

Group Discussion (8 minutes)

Take a few minutes to discuss what you just watched.

  1. What part of the video teaching had the most impact on you?
  2. Have you ever heard of the philosophical concept of summum bonum? It is a Latin expression meaning “the highest good” — an end in itself that also encompasses all other goods in life. What do you think of the idea of deciding your own summum bonum in life?
  3. Discuss your thoughts on the two reasons why Karen’s mentor thinks we are on earth: to have a relationship with God, who offers us a place in Heaven, and to take every opportunity to point others to Jesus so they will spend eternity in Heaven too.

Cluster Group Discussion (8 minutes)

If your group is comprised of more than twelve members, consider completing this discussion in smaller groups of three to six people each.

  1. Grab your Bibles and turn to Mark chapter 5. Have someone read verses 21–34 aloud to the group. In the space below, record as many observations as you can about the following:
  • List all the people (or groups of people) who were physically present in the story, even if they never spoke a word but only observed.
  • Next, list any adjectives (excited, angry, etc.) that describe how each of the people (or group of people) must have felt watching this scene unfold.
  • Are there any guidelines you can draw out of this passage for living alert?

Who was Jesus most concerned with when this scene took place — the crowds or the unnamed ill woman? What does this teach us about how we should behave today?

Group Discussion (15 minutes)

Gather back together as one large group and answer the following questions.

  1. What is one insight you gained from the small group activity on Mark 5?
  2. What people in the Mark 5 passage were mentioned but not physically present? (See verses 23 and 26.) How might the news of this story have affected them when they heard it?
  3. In the video segment, Karen talked about the concept that for Jesus, often His greatest ministry was the person He found standing in front of Him. Who are some people you often find standing in front of you on any given day? Do you tend to see them as someone to minister to or someone who is an interruption or even a nuisance? Be honest.
  4. Karen talked about how often we tend to value possessions over people or place position over people. Why do you think we do this — placing a higher value on our stuff or our status than on our relationships?
  5. In the video, we were introduced to the concept of hearing a “heart drop” — listening between the lines. Can you think of a time when someone you know heard you give a “heart drop” and did something special to cheer you up or encourage you? Share it with the group.
  6. BONUS QUESTION: Only when we love and share and serve, as Scripture commands us, can we live life on purpose, embracing the big “Why?” — the reason God brought us to Earth in the first place. Discuss the concept of upside-down living. This type of living says, “If you want to feel significant, you need to embrace obscurity and instead make others feel significant.” How have you found this to be true?
  7. BONUS QUESTION: Have someone read Matthew 5:14–16 aloud. Do you know of a situation in which someone’s good deeds glorified God in such a way that another person was led to have a relationship with Christ? Share with the group what happened.
  8. BONUS QUESTION: What did you think of the story of “J” — the elderly man who interrupted Karen’s writing of this very Bible study? Has there ever been someone in your life like this, maybe a lonely neighbor or a needy coworker? Share honestly with the group what happened and how you felt when that person seemed to take up a lot of your time. Knowing what you have learned today during this study, how might you react differently if the same scenario happened today? What can you say to yourself in the future when you are trying to get work done — or even just trying to relax — and another soul seems lonely or in need of some help or encouragement?

Individual Activity: What Is God Asking Me to Do?

Complete this activity on your own.

Take a moment to think through your current relationships — both inside and outside your home. The relationships may be with an individual or with a group — such as your students (if you are a teacher) or the neighborhood kids. List these people, and groups of people, in the spaces below.

Now, go back and put a star before the one or two people or groups you most tend to view as an interruption or even a nuisance rather than someone to whom you can minister. Ask God to help you change your perspective in the future.

Session 1 Memory Verse

Each session has a corresponding — and completely optional — Scripture memory verse or passage. Members may be interested in coming to the study five minutes early to practice reciting their verses with others; if so, coordinate that now. Then, as a group, read aloud this session’s memory verse:

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven. — Matthew 5:16

Challenge Reminder and Closing Prayer 

CHALLENGE: LIVE ALERT! Remember this week to live alert. In your between-sessions study, write this on a sticky note, make it your computer’s screen saver or cell phone lock screen. Then, make it your aim to live alert this week, listening for heart drops.

PRAYER: Have one person close in prayer, focusing on learning to live alert, hear those heart drops, and view people not as interruptions but as opportunities for ministry as Jesus did. Then, get ready to learn more in your between-sessions personal study prior to session two!

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Your Turn

Come share your thoughts with us about Listen, Love, Repeat Session 1 on our blog. We want to hear from you about Finding Your Big “Why?”





Karen Ehman

Karen Ehman is a New York Times bestselling author, a Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker, and a writer for Encouragement for Today, an online devotional that reaches over four million women daily. She has written eleven books including KEEP IT SHUT: What to Say, How to Say It; When to Say Nothing at All, and Listen, Love, Repeat: Other-Centered Living in a Self-Centered World. Karen has been featured on numerous media outlets including, Focus on the Family,,, and Home Life Magazine. Married to her college sweetheart, Todd, and the mother of three, she enjoys herb gardening, collecting vintage kitchenware, cheering for the Detroit Tigers, and feeding the many teens and young adults who gather around her kitchen island for a taste of Mama Karen's cooking.

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