Asking the Right Questions

Asking the Right Questions


While in college and seminary, I spent seven years in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia near Monticello, the estate of Thomas Jefferson. It’s an impressive place to visit. American history, beauty and inspiration flow from the 5,000 acre mountaintop plantation outside Charlottesville. The author of the Declaration of Independence, third president of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia designed and occupied this breathtaking environment of productivity and reflective renewal.

A less known part of the story Before he reached age 50, Thomas Jefferson began to contemplate how he might make the second half of his life more significant.

Neglecting family, the passion of his heart and love for farming, Jefferson invested the first 45 years of his life in a pivotal founding role of America. Lloyd Reeb tells the story in his book, Success to Significance (p. 25-26).

When his wife Martha died, deep grief drove Jefferson to do some introspection and evaluation. He took some time away in Paris to gain new perspective and a fresh vision. Jefferson had tasted success but his soul longed for something deeper and richer – something more lasting.

Jefferson celebrated his fiftieth birthday by packing up his belongs and sending them from Philadelphia, where Congress met, back to Monticello. He was ready for a new season.

Reeb quotes Jefferson’s reflection on his first half. Jefferson described himself as “Worn down with labors from morning to night, and day to day, knowing them as fruitless to others as they are vexations to myself…cut off from my family and friends…in short giving everything I love in exchange for everything I hate.”  Thomas Jefferson was wrestling with basic midlife questions.


Am I doing what really matters in the big picture?

Am I energized or worn out by what I do?

Am I able to invest in my most important relationships as much as I want to?

Am I using my time, talent and treasure to make the greatest possible impact in life?

Changing the world is more about asking the right questions than it is about having all the right answers. Are you currently asking yourself the essential questions? If not, why not?


QUESTION: Which of the above questions do you need to focus on right now?  I would love to know. Use the comment area below.

3 comments found

    3 Essential Questions for 2015 | DENNIS GINGERICH

    January 14, 2015 @ 6:19 am

    […] on helping others ask the right questions of themselves and others. For certain, if you aren’t asking the correct questions, you definitely aren’t going to get good […]

    Dorothy Ramos

    October 31, 2012 @ 9:48 am

    After losing my mom back in January I learned to live life with no regrets and pour into my family leaving a lasting legacy. At 45 years old I am just beginning to live. In answer to your questions above here are mine:

    Am I doing what really matters in the big picture?
    Learning more about what God wants for me in this life. How to live my purpose in loving God and loving people. Using my gifts to bring Him glory!

    Am I energized or worn out by what I do?
    I feel more alive and full of energy now than I have ever felt before!

    Am I able to invest in my most important relationships as much as I want to?
    I make it possible for my husband, children and grandchildren to come first. My time with them is more precious than work, television, internet, and anything else that keeps me from giving them my full attention. I stop whatever I am doing and make them first. It’s important for me to continue a legacy that was passed on to me. My mother taught me that family comes first. Sacrifices can be made to make sure your family sticks together but always relying on God for all things so that the world can’t steal from you what you can’t get back…precious time.

    Am I using my time, talent and treasure to make the greatest possible impact in life?
    Every day and doing my best, if it depends on me, to keep it that way!

    Have a blessed day Dennis!

    Ray harris

    October 31, 2012 @ 8:29 am

    Wow what a question. Sometimes I set and think that i would love to go back to work. I remember those days when money was much more plentiful than is in in my mature years now. Then I think what more could I do to make my life richer. That is when I realize that life is what you make of it and mine is just fine without the headaches, hustle and bustle of the work seen. I get great satisfaction just hanging out with my lovly wife and putzing around in the garage with various hobbies. If gives me a great deal of pleasure to help others when needed and stay busy around the homestead. Throw in a little travel once in a while and bingo you have it. I think the Lord knows our capabilities and only allows us the resources we need to be happy. I remember what my Grandma always said “You can’t buy happiness” . As I have matured (reached her age) I truly know what she was talking about.

    Thank you
    God bless

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