The Most Important Question

Some conversations change your life. You just don’t expect them to be with one of your kids.

Several years ago, my daughter, Leslie, came home from school and said, “Dad, I have to write a paper on a leader.”

“Yeah?” I said.

“I picked you, and the teacher said it was okay,” she said.

“Yeah . . .” I said, growing wary.

Without hesitating, she laid it out before me. “I have twenty questions. This is going to be at least a two-hour interview, and you have to answer them all honestly.”

At that, we grabbed our swimsuits and hopped into the hot tub. I thought, Since I’m going to end up in hot water anyway, I might as well start there!

Two hours later, she asked me her last question. It caught me by surprise. Her last question was her best question. And her last question was one of the most profound questions that human beings can ever ask themselves.

“What’s the single most important thing you do as a leader?”

I looked at her and said, “That’s easy. The single most important thing I do is make sure I stay encouraged.”

She looked at me with this blank stare—kind of like, what? Just as you may be looking at this book right now. I explained it to her.

“If I’m not encouraged, eventually nothing else matters.”

“If I’m not encouraged, I’ll never be the communicator people who listen to me need me to be.

“If I’m not encouraged, I’ll never be the person I believe God wants me to be.”

I got a little choked up, looked at Leslie, and said, “If I’m not encouraged, I will never be the dad you need me to be.

“If I’m not encouraged, I’ll never be the husband Mom dreams I might be someday.” (Married guys know exactly what I’m talking about.)

Why is this a big deal? Because getting and staying encouraged is everyone’s number one need—whether they know it or not.


RayJohnston_Official_PhotoAbout The Author

Ray has a rich and varied background as a university and graduate-school professor, speaker, writer, and founder of Thrive Communications. He is also the founding pastor of Bayside Church in the Sacramento, California suburb of Granite Bay, which Ray describes as “a church for people who don’t like church.” Bayside has grown into one of the largest churches in the nation with more than 12,000 people coming together every weekend at the Granite Bay campus and thousands more in multiple affiliated churches throughout the Sacramento region.

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