When I was in my early 30’s I was fortunate enough to have a really great Marriage and Family Therapy supervisor in D. Michael Smith. He was actually one of many early great mentors I had and supervisors as I pursued my license as a therapist. But one day while I was in a supervision session with him, and I was feeling particularly stuck with a client, he took out a piece of paper and began to write some questions down.
He told me that he believed that every person is essentially asking these 4 questions at each new stage in their life (and potentially are questions that are constantly at one’s top of mind). As he began to write I was super eager to see what these important questions were. He put the piece of paper between us and I began to look at the questions with him. The questions were:
- Who am I?
- What am I to do?
- How am I to be loved?
- How do I become all that God created me to be?
Essentially, they are questions of identity, vocation, relationship, and purpose/calling. And these questions are intimately linked with one another, because often one can’t be answered without having answered the other.
In this episode I explore these 4 questions in depth and talk about why they are necessary questions for us. They are perhaps the most important questions we can be asking ourselves. They are questions of ultimate concern as I talk about in this episode. As the Christian existential philosopher/theologian Paul Tillich wrote:
“Man, like every living being, is concerned about many things, above all about those which condition his very existence…If [a situation or concern] claims ultimacy it demands the total surrender of him who accepts this claim…it demands that all other concerns…be sacrificed.” (Dynamics of Faith)
I have written and talking extensively about how anxiety in the New Testament can mean different things in different contexts. Paul in Philippians uses the Greek merimnao to describe not being anxious (Philippians 4:6) and to have care/concern for (Philippians 2:20). In essence, the Greek word for anxiety here means literally to not be anxious, but at other times, have care and concern for.
So it’s possible that our anxiety at times points to ultimate concerns because it’s in our anxiety that we are being told to care for these things. And it’s these questions that often come up for us.
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I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist practicing in Plano, Texas. I work with individuals, couples, and families regarding a number of issues from marriage therapy, anxiety, depression, infidelity, faith, relationship strengthening, and athletic performance. If you are interested in scheduling a session with me, or having me out to speak, please contact us via email or phone (469-304-9022).