Ask yourself, “So what?”

Neil Armstrong made his first moon walk on July 20, 1969, two months before I entered college. I remember that many Americans were euphoric about this accomplishment. There were songs written, celebrations, ticker tape parades, and coins depicting an eagle landing on the moon.

Yet what really stands out in my memory was a poster on a classmate's dorm-room wall. It looked like the front page of a newspaper's special edition. The large photo dominating the upper half of the page showed Armstrong in his space suit, visor down, planting the U.S. flag into lunar soil. The banner headline screamed, "So what?"

I think the ôSo what?" poster was questioning whether the billions poured into the space program were justifiable while people in the U.S. and around the world were still suffering from hunger, poverty, illiteracy, and poor health care. Stewardship was the issue the poster was raising.

Most would agree the space program has been well worth its expense. The many spin-offs are not the only benefit. It transformed assumptions of what is possible.

We should ask ourselves, "So what?" at the very moment we accomplish anything we are tempted to label "great." We should do this so habitually that we learn to ask it at the beginning of a project, not just at its end. Is this thing into which I am pouring so much of my time, money, and energy really worth it all? Will it change the world for the better? Will it change me?

The Master asked, "So what?" again and again. He wanted his disciples to count the cost, to inspect the fruit, to look down the broad road and up the narrow road. Many of His parables have to do with Judgment Day. The fire of judgment will burn up all the unworthy pursuits and the fly-by-night goals. What survives will be only what can face such a probing question with solid confidence.

—Steve Singleton