Guest Post: Garris Elkins: Four Questions That Help Bring Focus

“The Four Questions” by Garris Elkins

1365473900About 20 years ago, I began asking myself four questions. I also asked the same questions of our church staff during our quarterly planning sessions. The questions helped us engage a process of evaluation where we could leave behind what needed to be left behind and keep what we would need for the coming journey into a new season.  Asking these four questions is not just a good exercise for an individual or a church staff, it is a wise practice for a business, a family or a group of friends who share life together.Here are the four questions:


1) What do I like about what I am doing?

2) What do I not like about what I am doing?

3) What do I want to keep?

4) What do I want to get rid of?

Asking these four questions caused me to stop, think and evaluate my life and how I was expending my energy and resources. It was not always easy.  The questions confronted me. As I adjusted my life and efforts around the answers to these questions I found my life becoming more simplified and focused.

One reason it is important to ask these questions is because our lives can become cluttered.  Just because we do something for a time does not mean we should keep doing it.  If there is no flushing mechanism in our life and calendar we will end up bogging down trying to carry too many things. We can become overwhelmed and immovable when we should be light and unencumbered.

As I examine the last 33 years of ministry I realize there were times when I did not ask these questions.  Those times did not carry with them the focus, energy and joy needed to live and lead well.

Here is my suggestion – find some time this week and ask these four questions about your personal and professional life.  If you are married, ask your spouse to answer these questions with you.  At the end of your question and answer time, do something with the answers you discovered. Make the needed changes and trust God to walk you forward.

Once you write down your answers also write a date on your calendar to ask the same questions again a few months down the road. This will help you stay accountable to the adjustments you made.  Asking ourselves challenging questions is one way we can steward our lives to have a greater impact for God by offering him a life not encumbered with things he doesn’t want us to carry.


Garris and his wife, Jan, live in Southern Oregon where they serve as pastors of Living Waters Medford. They enjoy walking in the hills that surround their home and lingering over a cup of good espresso. You can find Garris at and