LIFE-CHANGING QUESTION: WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?

By Dr. Wojciech Kowalewski – Excerpted from Chapter 7 of “340 Questions Jesus Asked” 

*Based on the book Pytania zmieniające życie [“Life-changing Questions”] by Dr. Wojciech Kowalewski.

What is it that makes life for many people not what they would like it to be? What is the most common cause of such frustration? Experts say that it is a gap between a person’s needs and expectations on the one hand, and the current state of his life, which does not coincide with them. In order to consciously pre vent such situations and strive for deeper fulfillment in everyday life, we must first know what we really care about, what goals and desires we want to achieve.

MEANINGFUL QUESTIONS

In this context, the question that the Lord Jesus asks at the beginning of John’s Gospel seems very relevant: “What are you looking for?” (John 1:38).

Jesus is a master at establishing important conversations and asking questions. Although in the text of all the gospels there are many questions, so far the object of study of biblical scholars has been statements containing assertions rather than questions, which have often been treated as an additional compositional element that contributes little to the understanding of the main message of the analyzed texts. But what if Jesus’ questions are not just a stylistic means to build the narrative dynamics of the Gospels, but are an important element of spiritual formation and leadership?

What is the benefit of asking questions? Unlike giving advice or instructing, questions force us to think, lead us to formulate answers we believe in ourselves, and motivate us to act on our own thoughts. Asking questions thus protects us from passively accepting what others say and counteracts stagnation, and inspires us to vigorously apply our creative abilities to solve the dilemmas that move us. Questions can thus lead to answers we don’t expect, empowering us to discover possibilities previously unseen and unleashing our potential. In the evangelist John’s description, the question falls the day after the public inauguration of Christ’s ministry. John the Baptist has just announced that this is the Lamb of God who takes upon himself the sin of the world. After this declaration, two first followers appear ready to accompany Jesus; he stops, turns around, and asks them a significant question: “What are you looking for?”

Jesus does not start with a superficial question or a polite formula, but asks what is really important. He does not initiate this conversation with confrontation or accusations. He does not force an answer. He asks a question that prompts them to think about something important and provokes them to unveil their identities. This constitutes an invitation to deeper reflection and conversation. Jesus does not reject them. He doesn’t look down. He does not impose himself. From the very beginning of his ministry, he expresses his interest. He tries to establish a deep conversation, to know their deepest desires and hopes. He is ready to listen to them.

At first the disciples are puzzled by this question, so they respond with “Rabbi—where are You staying?” (John 1:38) Jesus, in response, invites them into his home. Showing hospitality to someone was synonymous in this culture with acceptance. Jesus invites them into his life by saying, “Come and see.” (John 1:39)

A STILL-ACTIVE INVITATION

Imagine for a moment that you are the one talking to Jesus, looking into his eyes filled with love and faith in you, looking at you like an artist at his life’s work, like a parent at his beloved son or daughter, like a creator at the beauty of his creation, and asking you the question: “What are you looking for?” What would your answer to this question be? Seeing the love in His eyes, you know He will not laugh at you. He takes this invitation very seriously and has no intention of rejecting you when you are ready to open up to Him. He understands. He sees. He listens. And that changes everything beyond recognition.

Like every human being, you are only here on earth for a limited period of time. Thus, important questions arise regarding the proper use of the full potential of who you are and the realization of your deepest desires, which are no accident. As St. Augustine wrote, “Desire gives depth to the heart.” So it’s worth taking the time and energy to properly define what you want to build your life on and translate it into concrete goals to pursue. What are you really looking for in your life? What are your deepest desires? Where do you find fulfillment when thinking about the years you have left?

Tony Stoltzfus defines life purpose as follows: “The energy of passion directed by my experience and disposition in the service of a higher calling.” When you are internally consistent, you can be much more effective in realizing your stated purpose. Therefore, how you answer the question “What are you looking for?” will determine what you find and how you live this life.

There are so many voices, opportunities, and options vying for your attention. Experts say there are tens of thousands of pieces of information a day striving to distract us. The world we live in offers many ways to be fulfilled: career, money, knowledge, position, power, influence, relationships . . . These are just some of the suggestions for answering the question, “What are you looking for?” Many people experience frustration when they realize that the goals they set for themselves are unattainable, but they bounce back after momentary dissatisfaction that they were unable to meet their expectations. This is often due to the fact that these goals didn’t really reflect the person’s inner world of values and desires, or were simply ill defined.

PUT YOUR FAITH IN QUALITY

But what if life is about something much more? Ultimately, you have to ask yourself what gives my life meaning? The answer to this question will be related to what you constantly seek. Your deepest desires, then, have great power. If you are able to name them, define them, and consciously surrender them to God, it completely changes your perspective and understanding of what is really important, what gives your life meaning. Zig Ziglar, a well-known book author, motivational speaker, and authority on promoting “living a better-than-good life,” wrote: “I believe that the highest form of passion is that which sees a greater good as its object. A life that is ‘better than good’ is lived by people who nourish a passion for making their mark on the world in which they live.” So it’s not just a matter of focusing on providing pleasure for yourself, but of discovering how who you are can translate into a positive influence to others. Paradoxically, it’s this kind of attitude that, in effect, unleashes the dormant potential within us and leads to a fulfilled life.

Are you aware that the best in you is a gift from God? Pascal said that there is a God-like void in every human being, which means that nothing and no one but Him can fill it. This space is related to a constant search that can only be fulfilled in God. The Psalmist expressed it as follows: “As a doe thirsts for spring water so I thirst for you God.” (Psalm 42:1) Each of us is uniquely shaped by God; hence, we can experience the satisfaction of thirst in God in different ways.

In the Bible, the heart is seen as a source of creativity, courage, and confidence, while it is also a source of faith, hope, and love. It’s in the heart that life finds its source. (Proverbs 4:23) To discover one’s deepest desires, therefore, one must start with the heart. It’s very important, then, what your heart focuses on.

So it’s worth asking yourself some important questions:

  • What moves your heart? What passions ignite you to action?
  • If you could invest the rest of your life to change one thing around you, what would it be?
  • What in life gives you lasting satisfaction?
  • The answers to these questions will help you see the desires hidden in your heart. However, there is much more. What if you trust that all desires have a Father? What if you trustingly entrust them to God, who loves to bless His children? As the psalmist wrote: “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalms 37:4) It’s worth taking up Jesus’ invitation and answering the question, “What are you looking for?” Stop and ask God to show you what you really want. It means honestly facing the question: “What am I looking for?” Your deepest desires have great power. If you are able to name them, define them, and consciously pursue them, your perspective completely changes, as well as your understanding of what is really important and what gives meaning to your life.

    Click HERE to download your “340 Questions Jesus Asked” free eBook today.

     

    Wojciech Kowalewski

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Wojciech Kowalewski is the President of Golden Apple Institute based in Poland, an organization whose mission is to equip leaders to be disciplemakers. He is the author of numerous international and Polish publications and speaks at academic and marketplace conferences on leadership, missions, and discipleship. Wojtek is the head of the School of Biblical Discipleship; serves as the director of the Billy Graham Institute of Evangelism and Discipleship at the Baptist Theological Seminary in Warsaw; and serves on the National Board of the Baptist Union of Poland

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