When two people I respect recommend the same book to me within 48 hours, I figure it’s a book I need to read. That happened to me a few weeks ago when two leaders recommended Start With Why by Simon Sinek to me in a two day period. So I got my hands on the book.

A few standout quotes in the book include:

“With a little discipline, any leader or organization can inspire others, both inside and outside their organization, to help advance their ideas and their vision. We can all learn to lead.”

“There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.”

How do we inspire others? According to Sinek, it boils down to his Golden Circle.simon_whyhowwhat

The outer edge of the circle is WHAT is what a company or group does – the products or services that are offered.

Moving in one level, HOW is the process a company uses to accomplish the WHAT.

At the center of the circle is WHY. This is the purpose, cause, or belief that motivates a group.

WHY is the apex of leadership.

WHY is at the center of the circle because it all starts there.

Our problem as leaders is that we often end up focused on WHAT we do (after all, youth group is coming up) and the HOW we do it. It’s easy in ministry—and in life—to lose sight of WHY we do what we do.

There are all sorts of implications for this Golden Circle but I’d love to think about how we communicate about our youth ministry with others.

  • When we are meeting with a new potential volunteer, do we start by describing a typical Wednesday night meeting, or the reason teenagers need unconditional love from a team of adults?
  • When we’re inviting parents to an upcoming Parents Night, do we explain we need them there because we’re going to review the calendar, or do we give them a vision for the type of partnership we’d like to have with families?
  • When senior pastor asks us, “How’s it going?” in the church hallway, do we give numbers from last week, or do we take a few seconds to share a story of how God is transforming students?

WHY is a question I want to ask more regularly. WHY is a posture I want to take in my communication with others. How else can focusing on WHY help our youth ministries?