“How are you doing?”

We are often asked that question. We often ask that question.

Many times, after the four words are stated, the person asking doesn’t wait for an answer. “How are you doing?” has become a repeated phrase, a substitute for saying hello, using very little brain energy to state and very little time to wait for an answer.

I was once asked the question and the person turned to walk away. He assumed I would also. I didn’t. I stood in my place, staring at the one who quoted the cliché question. He paused, realizing his hurry rushed him past my response.

I slowly spoke, saying, “It has been a difficult month. Thanks for asking.”

He apologized for echoing a question and not waiting for an answer. I smiled, confessing my own tendencies to do the same.

A deep conversation followed. I asked him the question, “How are you doing?” He initially began responding by talking about his church’s attendance, his sermon from last Sunday, the changes they are trying to make in his congregation, and his plans for future growth. I calmly interrupted his lecture. “I’m not asking about your church,” I said. “I’m asking how you are doing.”

He hesitated, turning his eyes away from me and staring toward the wall. I’m glad he didn’t rush a response. I’m glad he didn’t hurry a quote.

Eventually he turned toward me and said, “I think you know how I’m really doing.”

I listened as he told me his story. Hurt, rejection, doubts, questions—those servings on the table of ministry which wound us, which leave scars.

Let’s move this toward you now. How are you doing? Is anyone regularly asking you that question, and waiting on a response? Are you answering the question honestly? Who is there to rejoice with you when you are doing well? Who is there to listen and love and hurt with you when you are not doing well?

Maybe these should be on your goal list:

·         Pursue relationships with people who ask you the question, “How are you doing?” Not the four-word-question stated in place of hello. Look for a servant leader who doesn’t just talk and teach and preach. Seek one who listens well, and who will make time to listen to you.

·         Pursue relationships with people who listen to your answer. A friend, a relative. A pastor, a mentor. Someone you can trust. If they have time and if they deeply care, tell them how you are doing.

·         Pursue relationships with people who help you find steps to take that are related to how you are really doing. As you find those who listen and offer help, be courageous enough to receive the help they offer. They just might point out what you often ignore.

Take a moment today. Think about you. 

For now, be still. Let the Lord your Shepherd lead you beside still waters and restore your soul (Psalm 23). And remember that you yourself are one of the sheep in need of a shepherd.