What motivates you? Is it love, ambition, fear, the yearning to belong, the desire to serve? Our motives determine what we say and what we do. They can also be our goals and objectives. Motives ultimately impact how successful we are.
Let's do a motive check on a few common areas of interest. Why do we want to:
- Lose weight?
- to look sexy, be attractive, fit into jeans
- to express balance, take care of the body we have, glorify God
- Work out?
- to lose weight, get a date, impress someone, get toned
- to play sports better, stay balanced, express Godlike qualities
- Go to school?
- to earn a grade to get into college, because we have to
- to learn, become wiser, explore, better ourselves
- Play sports?
- to win, beat the other team, be the best, get money, be famous
- to express rhythm, strength, dominion, beauty, precision, timing
- Get a job or go to work?
- to make money, buy things, get ahead of others, rise to the top
- to support our family, serve the company, bless others, help the world
Right motives give purpose, strength, life, and permanency to what we're doing. What Paul told the Corinthians thousands of years ago is still excellent advice: "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God" (I Cor 10:31 NIV). Right motives glorify God.
How do we make sure we glorify God? We serve others. That's what Jesus told us: if we love others, we're showing our love for God. So if our motive is to serve others, if God is behind what we say or do, it will last. If we take God out of the picture and put self in, then whatever we do will ultimately fail. We won't find fulfillment because life isn't about us being alone by ourselves on the proverbial "island." We live in communities with lots of others. Life is about working with and serving others. Of course, we still take care of ourselves, and we respect ourselves. But we don't center our actions solely on our own whims and desires.
When we glorify God, God glorifies us in wondrous ways. Joseph found this out. Joseph had to learn humility. He told his brothers that they would end up bowing down to him. So he found himself thrown into a pit. But Joseph put God first and made the commitment to do all to God's glory. People who met Joseph realized that "the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand" (Gen 39:3 KJV).
Joseph was never in it for himself. He always acted on his highest sense of right. He maintained his integrity. He helped others. As a result, he found himself as Potiphar's most trusted servant. Even in prison, he was respected. And when Pharaoh pulled him out of prison to interpret his dream, Pharaoh gave him the most powerful position in all of Egypt next to his own.
If we're honest with ourselves as we examine our motives, we'll discover whether we need to shift our focus. We can see if we need to spend more time working out spiritually with God rather than at the gym. We'll be able to determine if having one more cookie glorifies God and fulfills an actual need for fuel or is just based on self-gratification or greed. Our focus for school might shift so that we actually are more concerned with learning and discovering what we love so that we can bless the world with our wisdom, rather than just working because that's what we're supposed to do.
The more unselfish, pure, and God-centered our motives are, the stronger, happier, and more successful we'll be. What's more, others will be blessed by the impact of our good motives.