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Finding and Keeping Your Motivation

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But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ… –Philippians 3:7-8

I find these verses some of the most profound in scripture. It’s so easy to make Christianity about a host of other things. Good works, fighting sin, being a better spouse/parent/person–on and on it goes. Paul brings it back to one thing, one motivating factor.

Knowing Jesus.

He says he counts it all as loss because the value of knowing Him is so much greater. Even the stuff he hadn’t lost yet (and eventually he would lose his own life), he preemptively counted it as rubbish and nothing. Knowing Christ is the top, the ultimate–there is nothing higher.

I’ve been challenged by the Holy Spirit in recent days about why I do what I do. Let me ask you some of the questions I’ve considered.

  • Why do you serve your local church?
  • Why do you pray?
  • Why do you worship?
  • Why do you read scripture and study?
  • Why do you read other things you read?

I wrote about this recently that we can tie our spiritual disciplines into fighting or managing our sin. In that case, you are motivated not to feel the shame, embarrassment, or the sting of failure so you attempt to get to God in an effort to serve yourself.

People serving churches may be motivated by fear, guilt, greed, self-righteousness, or trying to “earn their keep.” People reading Christian books may simply be trying to eradicate a behavior or habit they don’t particularly like or find troublesome (for any number of reasons). There is nothing wrong with developing organizational strategies or such things, but do we allow that to replace our truly knowing Him?

For me, I have been facing some hard situations recently and subtly, I noticed (with His help) that the time I was spending with Him in prayer or worship or study focused more on my wanting out of these situations. Fear motivated me. Pain dogged me.

I know God can change situations in a moment, but my heart was set more on the change than Him. Now that’s okay for someone who doesn’t know Him, but the more history, the deeper the relationship, the more He requires and expects.

My wife will get upset quickly if I spend our every conversation rehearsing what I need her to do without ever putting anything into the relationship. When she feels sought after and loved, she’s open to helping with other things, but that’s not the point. If I focus on trying to “love” her without engaging, it’s manipulation. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but you’re not likely going to manipulate God in that way.

Once again, changed circumstances are not the goal.

I find myself thinking or saying before a worship or prayer time, “this is not about anything else. I want to know You. I resolve to know Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” Everything else can flow from that relationship or it can fade away.

…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. –Philippians 3:10-11

Seeking Him is not a means to an end. He is both the Beginning and the End. I’m motivated to go through the hard times with Him because of love and His fellowship. There is still pain. There is still some sting, but He reassures me of resurrection life.

What are your thoughts? Have you found yourself motivated by other things lately? Is your love for Him and seeking to know Him your main motivation?

16 Comments

  1. I find that I am easily distracted..but then jolted back to the truth. None of it even comes close to the wonders that god offers. I them wonder , what was I thinking?

    Your phillipians verse cuts right down to the very basics.
    David Rupert recently posted..Just because I don’t agree with you, doesn’t mean I hate youMy Profile

    • I’m amazed how “smart” I can become that I begin to lose this truth. It’s knowing Him. That’s salvation, that’s healing, that’s the life He calls us into. Nothing else. Thanks so much, David.

  2. I am always motivated to do most anything to lessen my anxiety. Fear is such a taskmaster, and it seems like I’m always praying for God to fix the things that make me anxious. But, for a couple of years now, I keep hearing say the same thing to me over and over: “Sharon, is it really just Me?”

    This year He *gave* me a word, a theme for the year -- JOY. And, as life would have it, it’s been one of the most difficult years in my life. However, I know my faith is growing. And I am learning that for me, JOY means Jesus, Only You.

    I just want to know Him.

    GOD BLESS!
    Sharon recently posted..YET ANOTHER LESSON FROM A BEAGLEMy Profile

    • So encouraging to have someone on a similar journey as me! Of course, I’m not happy you’ve been through hard times (or that I have!), but He meets us in the midst of it. Reveals His truth and yes, His joy. Thank you, Sharon!

      • Thanks, Jason for the help on the comment problem. I really appreciate it!!

        • I’m glad you brought it to my attention, Sharon!

  3. In the past I have found my motivations to be dubious at times. I have often been playing to the crowd. I eventually realized that was not going to work. I have to constantly keep in mind my audience is One.
    Bill (cycelguy) recently posted..FailureMy Profile

    • It’s the purity that flows from putting Him first that amazes me. We either have to constantly screw up to come back to grace or we keep Him first and allow grace to prevail everyday. I so much want to live in the latter! Thank you, Bill.

  4. Jason, I needed to read this today; made me sit up and take notice. How am I praying? How am I worshiping? Am I letting God lead the dance, or am I trying to manipulate the steps?
    As humans, it’s so easy to slip into those wrong reasons as we attempt to do the right thing, i.e., putting God first in our lives. You have made me so mindful of this today. Thank you for the inspiration!
    Martha Orlando recently posted..Perpetual MemoryMy Profile

    • You are so right! It’s the right thing done the wrong way which renders it fruitless. It’s the noisy gong and clanging symbol of the acts of Christians without true love for Him. I’ve been plenty guilty and as much as I hate it, I know He’ll have to remind me of this again. He’s all that’s worth living for. He gives meaning to the prayer and worship and disciplines. He’s worthy of it all! Thanks Martha. Great encouragement to me.

  5. Resting in and with Him to grow closer. I had times when I was so busy trying to please people that pleasing God was just one more thing on the list. Crisis sent me to the Word and began the change I needed to just want to be with Him. When I’m tempted to get off track, I try to remind myself of the peace He gives when I’m in His presence.
    Deb Wolf recently posted..Be Yourself -- Authentic and IntentionalMy Profile

    • I remember years ago I was so bothered by circumstances and trying to figure out practical solutions until I finally heard God speak to my heart, “there is nothing more practical than My presence.” That has stayed with me. I may need reminders, of course, but simply being with Him is not a waste of time or energy; it’s absolutely vital and the most practical thing we can do! Thank you, Deb. Love your thoughts.

  6. Ouch. I’m guilty as charged. I so appreciate your wisdom, honesty, and humility, Jason. It’s encouraging for me as I struggle with the same issues. Bless you, my brother.

    • Phew, sometimes I wish I had a better handle on it all, but it is a comfort to know I’m not alone! What a great thing to have personal community and online community to share with and encourage one another. God is so good. And may He bless you too, Floyd. 🙂

  7. My motivation tends to fluctuate and change, which is not a good thing. One of my life themes is “Focus determines reality” because I want to remind myself that what drives me makes a big difference in my productivity and effectiveness. With that, a focus on Christ and loving and seeking to know Him needs to be my top priority. All else in my life flows from that. As others have mentioned, I too need to be brought back in line frequently to that focus. One of the main reasons I write my blog is to help me maintain a focus on Him. Writing seems to be what He’s given me to help me stay living in that focus. Oh, btw, I wrote on focus in my last post on my blog. Hearing about it on another blog just confirms that I need to think more about my own focus.
    Kari Scare recently posted..How to Have Consistent Focus Even When No One Is WatchingMy Profile

    • Awesome, Kari! I’m so behind on my reading but I so appreciate your insights as you write. I feel the same way. Making the commitment to write helps me focus. Even the writing at times though can become centered on other things and motivations, but He redirects me. I’m really like a child who has issues staying on task with a Father patiently turning me back around! Thanks Kari.

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