Acts 19:32 Meanwhile, some were shouting one thing and some another, because the assembly was in confusion, and most of them did not know why they had come together.
Doing what everyone else is doing without knowing the reason you’re doing it is to subtly slip into a meaningless life full of motion but without depth, passion or color.
The crowds were riled and rushing through the streets toward the coliseum. The frantic passionate nature of the charge would have made any bystander believe something gravely important was underway. And as more made the decision to join the crowd, the crowd grew leading more to make the same decision – join the crowd. Scripture records that most of them involved in this protest didn’t know why they were there or why they were shouting, “Great is Artemis! God of the Ephesians!” Simply put, a majority of the people didn’t know what they were doing.
Do you know what you’re doing?
A psychology professor once told me that while at a concert in a football stadium, he was having trouble seeing because the entire crowd was standing. He grabbed the shoulders of the few in front of him and beside him, encouraging them to sit. As they did, those near them also sat. He described the entire stadium coming to sit like a wave.
Sometimes it only takes a few to get something started. But that certainly doesn’t mean the few are doing something meaningful. If enough people stare into the sky, others will stare, too, straining to see what they think others see. If enough people stand in an elevator facing the wrong way, when the door opens and a person enters, chances are he’ll face the back, as well. These examples are research proven and the videos are interesting to watch. The subjects who are “fooled” into standing the wrong way in an elevator never seem to ask “Why am I doing this?” What does seem apparent, though, is the question, “Shouldn’t I do what they’re doing?”
It’s hard to resist group tendency. In fact, that crazy question your mom used to ask, “If your friends jumped off a cliff, would you, too?” may have been meant as sarcasm but might be based in more reality than you thought. It’s not that hard to find yourself doing something centered more on social norm than reason. And chances are, you’re also not asking, “Why am I doing this?”
As leaders, that question should serve as the filter for every decision we make and if we ask it in truth, it will lead us toward truth.
Jogging a trail years ago, I startled a white-tailed deer. His tail shot up warning the others that danger was near. They all darted in different directions, one of them out into the highway to her demise. The big problem? There wasn’t any danger near. The warning signal was based in unwarranted fear.
Many decisions are made in fear, an emotion based on what might be. Those decisions then lead others to fear. We send signals with our decisions. For your decisions to be based on truth or what is rather than what might be, then ask the hard question.
“Why am I doing this?”
It’s not just a good question for leaders to ask. Why am I going to church? Why am I still at this job? Why am I still in this relationship?
Doing what you’ve always done or what everyone else is doing without knowing the reason you’re doing it is to subtly slip into a meaningless life full of motion but without depth, passion or color.
I don’t go to church because everyone goes. I go because I love God and His people. I don’t go to work because I’ve been there for 16 years. I go because I’m loyal and committed to do the best I can for my employer and to provide for those I love. I’m not in my relationship because the law says to stay married. I’m still in it because I love being with her, I’m committed to her and want her life to be blessed.
Go ahead and look at the rote decisions of your day to day and ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” It may save you from getting caught up in what the Ephesians did that day; doing what others are doing even when they don’t know why they’re doing it. All for what? No good reason.