For in him we live and move and have our being- Acts 17:28
So, Sometimes my attitude really stinks. I mean not all the time, just on occasion. Like when there is an AT&T salesperson at my door, or a phone call from a salesperson whom I did not reach out to, suddenly calls wanting to sell me something. Oh, I appreciate their tenacity. Their persistence, their drive to make the sale, close the deal, earn their commission. But, really? I mean can’t they see I’m busy? That if I really wanted to buy something, I would reach out to them? I would be visiting their store or place of business?
I like to think that I am generally optimistic, you know, the glass half- full kind of person. The one who tries to see the best in a bad situation. The one who glosses over issues and looks for a quick solution to fix it. But, the one thing that bothers me and puts me in a very judgmental state, is this. “Why are you trying to sell me on this?” “What is your real purpose?” or “What is your motivation?” I am a real skeptic when it comes to motivation. I don’t want to be told how this will benefit me, what I really want to know is how it will benefit them. Why are you doing this? Why are you convinced this is what I need? Do you really know what I need?
Of course, most of us know that the motivation for salespeople is to make money. It’s their job. It’s how they earn a living. And I give them credit for trying to do their jobs. But as I expand this idea of motivation out further, I often wonder what the motivation of Christians should be towards their lives, their faith, their witness to the world.
I recently was watching a video of a bright and cheerful Christian. They were certainly convinced what they were taking about was very important to me and anyone else who would care to watch. Their voice was raised to an excitable pitch and allowed for the occasional pause, and the lowering of tone for an emotional impact. They waived their hands- well, their whole arms- as every good communicator should do- thank you COMS 101 class notes for that insight– as I had been taught in college. Never just use your hands but make large movements with your whole forearm for affect, to seem sincere. I’ve never really remembered to do this when teaching, and I don’t really want to. Why? because I do not believe in manipulating others for my own benefit. Not when it comes to things like teaching the Bible or sharing the Gospel. Oh it works, it gets attention, but I am looking for God’s words to convince the person, not my theatrics. I’m not wanting to gain fame as a trained motivator, just an honest person, making an honest appeal.
But, please don’t misunderstand me. I am a manipulator at times too. Just ask my husband! I have learned recently that I am a shock absorber- Thanks Dr. Caroline Leaf- for helping me understand how my quick fixes and glossing over the bad to keep the peace made me a shock absorber- someone who seeks to keep the peace- not so others will be happy- but so that I will be. Yup, convicted and guilty of that. So, while my motivation might appear great, it really is for me, about me, and not about others. If you haven’t heard of Dr. Leaf, I suggest you listen to her podcasts, or read some of her books. She is not an untrained self- help guru, but a Christian neuroscientist who understands how our minds work, both physically and spiritually. Her insights have been tremendously helpful to me as a navigate my own emotional health and spiritual journey.
So, back to motivation, I have been thinking quite a bit about it lately and have been reminded that our motivation should be focused not only for others, or towards ourselves, but towards God. We might have a great plan, a great idea that we really think is best for others, but what is our real motivation? I recall a lecture from college during which the professor gave an invaluable life lesson, one from his own college days. He was about to graduate and was praying and struggling over what God was calling him to do with his life. He had been a religion major- same as I was- and wondered what God was going to do, where He would send Him, what were his next steps, when he overheard a casual conversation in the cafeteria. His friends all had plans- plans to make it big- they were all going to join together and create a mega church after graduation. One was a great worship leader, another a great expositor of Scripture, another a great business leader. But the one word that kept repeating itself during the conversation was not “we” or “God”, but “I”. To the dismay of my professor, all he kept hearing was”I” am going to do this or that,”I” am starting a mega church- The lesson the professor was sharing is to not forget who we are doing this for- our education, our training, our presentations, our jobs, our lives- It’s for Him. Not us. Not me.
It’s not that God actually needs anything from us. He doesn’t, but when we think of what he has done and continues to do, giving and keeping our very existence going- then it is For Him. This is what our motivation should be. What my motivation should be. When we begin any new project, whether it is a new job, education, ministry, or outreach let us first ask ourselves, what is my motivation? Second let us ask God to direct us in how we should be doing it for Him. Third, let us not become proud of ourselves and try to do everything on our own. Reach out to others and let them help.- If its truly for Him- we won’t be bothered by their input and help. God bless