The Importance of the “Why”

Carl Barnhill

I’m the kind of person that once I know the “why”, I can get behind an idea or cause. In fact, if the “why” is compelling, I’ll follow you anywhere. This is also why some organizations and some leaders can inspire and some can’t.


I hosted a live radio program years ago where I interviewed countless Christian music artists and producers. I would study great interviewers like Larry King, Barbara Walters, Charlie Rose, James Lipton, Diane Sawyer and Jay Leno to learn how to interview people well. I may not agree with their politics or everything they do, but they have interviewed hundreds of people from all over the world and are masters at it.


Larry King has said that the greatest interview question he could ever ask was “why?”. It forced the person he was interviewing to give a fuller and more interesting answer. They can’t give a one-word answer. It causes them to think. And it helps you, as the viewer or reader, understand the person or subject, it connects you on a deeper level to that person or cause.

This is true in leading volunteer teams as well.


Give your volunteers the “why”. 


Cast vision to your team so they understand the significance of their service.


As a Production Director or Media Leader at your church, it’s not about filling the seats in your production room or booth with button pushers. We can teach almost anyone to run ProPresenter or move the right fader on the lighting board.


People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

The goal is not to execute a great worship service.


The goal of our worship services should be to create experiences where people meet Jesus and take their next step with Him. 


When people are getting saved, marriages are being restored, people are being set free, people are growing with Jesus…who gives a rip whether you missed a light cue? Who cares whether a lyric was a little late? Hear me clearly – do I want to miss a light cue? No. Do I want to lead lyrics where the congregation can engage in worship? Of course. But your volunteers will consistently burn out and get frustrated if all they see you do is complain about mistakes or constantly critique. Be sure to place more emphasis on the “why” behind executing a great service than the details of the day.

Suggested Tweet: "People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. @carlbarnhill"

 Work to improve every experience, but keep the “why” more important than the “what” you do or “how” you do it.


Simon Sinek wrote an incredible book on this entitled, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action.


It’s a great book that I strongly encourage you to purchase and use to inspire your team.


If you haven’t seen Simon’s TED Talk on this subject, check out his talk “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” below.
It’s about 20 minutes long and well worth it.

(DISCLAIMER: I am an Affiliate. I do receive a small amount of revenue when you purchase any of the products I recommend. However, my promise to you is to only recommend products and services I use myself and can with integrity recommend to you).

About Carl Barnhill

Owner, Church Visuals

Carl Barnhill is a creative entrepreneur, motion designer and author. He is the Owner Church Visuals, a company that helps Ministry Leaders visually communicate the Gospel. He is the host of the Your Visuals Matter Podcast. You can find him in Columbia, South Carolina with his wife, Katie and two sons, Jacob and Wesley.

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