[COMMENTARY] Asking the Tough Question: So What?

My lawn is looking really good this year.  It’s green, weed-free, and it feels great to walk on.  The last couple of weeks, I’ve felt an odd twinge of pride as I pull into the neighborhood and see the green blanket of sod in the yard.  It’s only taken two years, hundreds of dollars of lawn treatments, thousands of dollars (yes thousands) worth of water, and an automatic sprinkler system to get the yard looking this good.  I’m not quite the pride of my subdivision, but I’m getting close.

Here’s the thing — other than mowing, I spend about 10 minutes a week in the front yard of my house.  I’m never out there.  I’ve spent all of this money, time, and effort merely to have a yard that’s there to impress the 10 cars a day that drive by my house.

Another thing — I really don’t like to mow.  The truth is, I have allergies so bad that many days after mowing I have huge welts on my legs.  My eyes get red and swollen.  It’s not pretty.

Yep, my lawn looks great — but so what? I spend a lot of time and money to maintain a lawn that I neither spend time on or enjoy mowing.

Do you ever just ask yourself – so what?  Why do the things we place so much value on matter?  I think this is one of the most important questions we can ask ourselves.

Take a moment and think about the way you spend your days.  Ask yourself the “so what” question to see what the answer is.  Think about the stuff you have and ask yourself – so what?

When you ask yourself this question, your first response will probably be to feel bad about everything.  We don’t need all of the stuff we have.  We don’t need to be chasing the things that we chase.  The purpose of this exercise is not to make you feel bad.   Don’t let that happen.  Just think through your motivations.  The purpose is to understand the why.  Let me give you a couple of examples.


Think through your career track.  Why are you chasing the big job with the big money?  I know a guy who had the big job and made a lot of money.  He could have done almost anything he wanted.  But he retired early so he could live a life of service to his church and community.  He asked his “so what” question years ago and planned accordingly.  Not everyone who has success financially thinks this way.


I’ve got an entire garage full of tools that rarely get used.  Most people would see this as a waste of money.  At some level is probably is a waste.  However, one of my favorite things to do is to take on a project and build something.  I’ve built bookcases, treehouses, made home improvements, etc.  Building stuff is therapy for me.  I wish I could do it more often.  So, for me the garage full of tools that rarely get used is worth it.  The green grass in the front yard, however, is a waste.

One of my favorite passages of scripture is written by Paul as he describes how difficult it is to live the life he knows in his heart he needs to live.  The message is great, but what I like about the passage is that the translation sounds so much like something I’d say to myself driving down the road:

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.  For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.  (Romans 7:15-19, NIV edited)

How many of us have said this to ourselves?

See, Paul had already asked the “so what” question and had the answer.  His struggle was with living it out.  I imagine if a man like Paul struggled to live his life the way he wanted, most of us will struggle as well.  It’s a never-ending battle.  But if we’ve done the work to ask the “so what” questions, we’ll at least know where we should be going.  Even if we don’t always get there by the shortest route…

Image credit: Brandon Blinkenberg

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