finding meaning in the mundane

Tag: J.R. Briggs

How Are You? No, Really…

“How are you doing?”  If I asked you this I’m pretty sure that I could guess what your answer is going to be.

  1. Fine
  2. Good
  3. Okay

Or maybe just maybe you would join the 2% of the population that actually chooses option 4–honesty.

One Sunday morning I asked someone how they were fully expecting to get any of the first three answers, either 1, 2, or 3.  But instead they chose option 4–honesty.  What did they say?   “Well actually I’m pretty Sh!&#y.  This was Sunday morning in the church hallways.  There was something so honest and refreshing about his response.  He didn’t need to lie to me.  He didn’t need to cover anything up.  His feelings were raw and emotional.  They were right there on the surface.  And what I really appreciate about the whole interchange is that he didn’t apologize for them.  It was what it was.

Recently I’ve been re-reading “Fail“.  And the author J.R. Briggs says this,

How often are the regular Christian clichés we use nothing more than disguises for our hurt and pain?  They are not only lazy but also deceiving.  Maybe most dangerous of all, we may eventually fool ourselves one day into thinking we’re actually okay.  We hide so much under the rug, eventually we end up tripping on it.

Why do we do this to ourselves?  What are we afraid of?  Too often we are so uncomfortable with who we are on the inside that we couldn’t possibly understand how anyone else could possibly accept us if they saw who we truly were or what we were truly experiencing.  So rather than being honest and vulnerable with people, we choose to project an image of having it all together.

This should not be.

HikerFight the desire to simply be okay–okay is average.  Okay desensitizes you to feeling both hot and cold, pain and pleasure.  To the degree that we understand pain, we will understand pleasure.  We cannot understand the majesty of the mountaintop if we haven’t been down in the valleys too.  I love how J.R. puts it, “we may eventually fool ourselves one day into thinking we’re actually okay”.  How scary is that?  Those words left a haunting impression in my mind.  I don’t want to fool you, and the last thing I want to do is fool myself.

Don’t ignore the people around you.  Do them a favor and be honest with them.  They need it, and you need it.  So, would you be bold enough to answer honestly the next time you are asked how you are?  What if you were courageous enough to go first…  I bet you’d be surprised at how they would reply to your question “How are you?”

I dare you.  Try it.


Is Everyone Always ‘Good’?

“How’s it going?”  I ask that question about 10 billion times on any given Sunday, and then another 10 billion times throughout the week with people that I see.  As I’m shaking hands, saying hello, or as people are on their way out from church, I am consistently trying to see how people are doing.  It is one of the things that I love most… finding out how people are doing—correction, how people are actually doing.  I like to check in with people at the office and find out how life is going.  I want to know how my friends are actually doing.

I know that in our culture we use the phrase ‘how’s it going’ as a greeting.  But there is something disturbing when all we hear back 99% of the time is a canned response.

Here are two things that we can do to break through the canned response and dig deeper towards building meaningful relationships.

1. Answer Authentically

We should all do ourselves a favor and just be honest with one another.  Why are we pretending and masking how we are actually doing?  It is no surprise to me that more and more people are feeling lonely and isolated in this world.  We can blame it on the rise of technology, and the added hours of work, and whatever else you would like to fill in the blank with…  I blame the loneliness and isolation on the fact that few of us are honest with one another.

When we answer ‘good’ to every question asked about how we are doing, soon enough people will stop asking.  Or even worse, people will want to stop asking.  You’re ‘goodness’, or perceived perfect life, actually just begins to annoy me.  See my life (and likely yours too) is anything less than perfect.  So when we hear that someone has the perfect life we begin to write them off as untouchable, perfect, or just downright dishonest.

I’m just saying, we should answer a little more honestly.

2. Ask a better question.

‘How’s it going?’ literally is begging for the answer ‘good’.  There is no doubt in my mind.  That is almost like asking, ‘what is 1+1?’  We expect the person to say 2.  So let’s cut to the chase, we need to ask better questions if we are looking for better answers.  My friend J.R. Briggs is a master question asker.  He can get right to the core of how I am actually doing in about 4 minutes or less, simply because he has mastered the art of the question.  One of my favorite questions he asks is, “What is the state of your soul?”  Or, another great question that I’ve heard is what is one thing that you have done today that you would love to do tomorrow?  Pointed questions receive better answers.

Another habit that I have gotten into is following up the simple ‘good’ answer with, what would it take for you to say ‘amazing’?  Not everyone is trying to hide how they really are, or mask their inner emotions, some people are just waiting to see if you actually care, or if all you are doing is saying a culturally accepted form of hello.  Let’s get into the habit of asking better questions.

What are some of the best questions that you have been asked?  What would you want people to ask you?


Asking The Right Questions: An Interview with J.R. Briggs

Questions take us in all different directions. They impact the flow of our conversations, as well as our relationships. Think about some of the most important questions that you have ever been asked? How have they shaped you?


J.R. Briggs is a brilliant question asker.  He asks some of the most poignant questions I have ever been asked before in my life.  Too often we ask simple questions like, “How is your day?”, or “What’s going on?”  Those questions are pregnant with possibility, yet we answer them with the words, fine, good, or okay.  Clearly we didn’t ask the right question!

Here are a few awesome quotes from my interview with J.R. Briggs:

Asking good questions mean we are caring for people well.

Questions take us in all sorts of directions, and can really be the neck muscles that can turn our heads to pay attention to look in different directions.

Asking great questions is one of the best forms of teaching in an information saturated world.

When the right questions are asked at the right time, in the right setting, to the right person, life change can totally happen.

He points out that there are two primary types of questions, informational questions and incisive questions. There is a time and a place to ask either one.  Check out this interview to hear more about the value of asking great questions.  Asking the right questions, the great questions, will impact your relationships with others.

What has been the most impactful question that you have ever been asked before?


Asking Great QuestionsJ.R. Briggs serves as Cultural Cultivator of The Renew Community a Jesus community for skeptics and dreamers in Lansdale, PA – a suburb of Philadelphia, which he helped start. He is the founder of Kairos Partnerships an initiative that partners with leaders, pastors and church planters during significant kairos moments in ministry. As part of his time with Kairos Partnerships, he serves on staff with The Ecclesia Network and Fresh Expressions U.S. and coaches leaders, pastors and church planters across the country.

He is the creator and curator of the Epic Fail Pastors Conference, which helps pastors embrace failure and grow to see failure as an invitation to growth and an opportunity for grace and healing, instead of shame. He is currently working on a book project with InterVarsity Press tentatively titled The Epic Fail Pastor,which will be out in lat 2013 or early 2014. 

J.R. and his wife Megan have two sons, Carter and Bennett along with a pet goldfish named Goldwater Fitzpatrick (but affectionally refer to him as Goldie). They live in the heart of gritty Lansdale, PA.

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