What’s My Motivation?

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12

It’s typically the actor’s question.  What’s my motivation?

Even though I’m not an actor, I’ve been asking myself the same thing.

Or perhaps it isn’t me asking at all, but God who is nudging my heart.

It’s when I worship.  What is my motivation for singing now?
It’s when I serve.  What is my motivation for this ministry?
It’s when I do Mom things and Wife things.  What is my motivation for caring for my family in this way?
It’s when I speak and write.  What is my motivation for saying this?

It’s easy to feel at times that our behavior and actions are all that matter, thinking that what we do pleases God.

And if that was the true test, maybe some of us would be earning easy A’s in this life.

God, however, is always more interested in our heart than in the activity of our hands. 

The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind,
to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve” (Jeremiah 17:10).  Our conduct and deeds are not judged on their own.  Instead, God penetrates the closed-off, hidden portions of our hearts and minds.  He seeks out our motivation for all that we do.

He asks questions.

In Mark 10, two brothers and a blind man both came to Jesus with requests and instead of performing immediate miracles or making instant promises, Jesus asked them each the same question.

It’s a question that’s all about motives.

James and John, the fiery sons of Zebedee, started out tentatively, “‘Teacher,’ they said, ‘we want you to do for us whatever we ask.'”

Jesus was no fool.  He asked them for specifics.  “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:36).

What could their request be?  What was their deep-down true desire?  What motivated their service?

For these two brothers, the truth was an ugly one. They desired self-exaltation and personal glory.  “They replied, ‘Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory” (Mark 10:37).

We serve because of the attention and praise it brings.  We want to be told how great we are and to feel proud of being your followers!  We want to be your right and left-hand guys, with all of the power and status that entails.

Jesus denied their request, teaching the disciples instead that God’s Kingdom doesn’t function with the same hierarchy as earthly realms.

“Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43-45).

Does a desire for attention and praise motivate us in the same way?  If you allowed God to ask you that question right now—What do you want me to do for you?—how would you answer?

Would you want material provision?
Would you want physical comfort or worldly success?
Would you want to feel like the best mom, wife, employee, daughter, friend?
Would you desire ministry impact and, if so, for what purpose—to feed your pride, to make you feel valued, to give you special status in God’s Kingdom?

Or do you desire His glory?  Do you desire greater intimacy with God?
Do you long to see?

That’s what blind Bartimaeus wanted.  Just verses after Jesus’s motivational chat with James and John, Jesus met this blind beggar.

When he heard that Jesus was in town, Bartimaeus cried out loudly in desperation.  He shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mark 10:47)

Have mercy!  That means, “I know I don’t deserve anything from You, but I ask because You are compassionate.”

Daniel prayed in this same way when he said, “We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy” (Daniel 9:18).

From the beginning, Bartimaeus’s request was different than the Zebedee brothers, who asked for status in heaven because they felt their earthly service merited it.

But Bartimaeus knew we don’t earn God’s gifts to us.

So the blind man screamed out for Jesus’s attention and Jesus, hearing his cries, called Bartimaeus over.  Then He asked the question: What do you want me to do for you? (Mark 10:51).

What was it Bartimaeous wanted?  A place in Jesus’ kingdom?  A seat near the throne in heaven?  A place in Jesus’ inner circle here on earth now?

No.  “The blind man said, ‘Rabbi, I want to see.” (Mark 10:51).

Immediately, Jesus healed him because of his faith. Then Bartimaeus did the only thing possible when Christ delivers you; he followed Jesus down the road.

What do you want God to do for you?  How painful this question can truly be when we allow Him to weigh our motives, revealing the impurities there.

Are we seeking God’s glory in all things?  Are we longing and searching to see God in every situation?  Or are we out for ourselves, for what we think we need, for what will fulfill us, for what will make us happy, and for what will satisfy our pride?

What’s your motivation?

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King

A Giveaway and a Trophy!

Giveaway!

I promised in my weekend post that we’d celebrate reaching the 100th entry in this devotional blog and we’ll hit the big 100 on Friday!  Thanks so much to you for traveling on this journey with me.  I pray for you–even if I don’t know who you are or what you’re going through.  God knows all these things and I ask for His hand of blessing on you as you seek Him.

On to the giveaway!  I’m just over a month away from traveling to the Women of Faith conference in Washington, DC, so I’m going to give away some Women of Faith goodies.

The prizes:  The first person whose number is drawn will receive a brand new copy of Sheila Walsh’s book, Beautiful Things Happen When a Woman Trusts God.

I’m also giving away two brand new Women of Faith Worship CDs including songs they’ll be singing at this year’s conference.  These will go to the second and third numbers drawn.

To Enter:

Post a comment anywhere on this web site starting today and ending at midnight on Sunday, July 17th.  I’ll use random.org to randomly select the winners and I’ll announce their names in Monday’s post.

Today’s Devotional: Do I Get A Trophy?

The kids piled onto the stage for the practice before the big program.  At first, I arranged them like carefully planned chess pieces—tallest in the back, little ones up front.  Brothers not next to other brothers for fear of poking and other tomfoolery.  Eventually, though, the kids just kept coming and shifting around and they ended up in no particular order.

However it happened, in the very middle of the stage in the very front row was the most precious little boy you could imagine.  He sang.  With all his might, he sang.  You could hear his voice in any place in the sanctuary and those passing by the closed doors could hear him singing down the hall.  His sister poked him during each song and whispered to him, “Don’t be so loud!” Those watching us practice from the pews couldn’t help but smile as he made a “joyful noise.”

Then, the practice done, each child climbed down the steps of the stage and filed into the back room to wait for the actual program.  Except for this one singing boy.

He took hold of my hands and asked, “Ms. Heather, did I do a good job?”
“Oh, you did a great job. I love how you sang with all your heart.”
“So, do I get a trophy?”
“Well, I don’t have trophies, but I have candy!”

He seemed happy with the alternative and ran off with the other kids.

We Don’t Serve To Earn a Trophy

For most of the truly important things in life, we don’t get trophies.  Coaches hand them out for playing on a soccer team, but no woman polishes the brass trophy on her shelf for enduring labor and having a baby.  There’s no “stayed up all night with vomiting children” trophy.  No trophy for “visiting the nursing home without anyone else knowing you did it.”  No plaque for “spent hours on knees praying for wayward child.”

We don’t serve for awards that will hang on our wall or adorn our bookshelves.  Other than an occasional mug from our kids saying, “World’s best mom,” we go through our everyday acts of ministry without recognition.

Sometimes our motives twist and need readjusting.  Deep in our heart, we occasionally slip into acting out of a desire to be seen, noticed and praised.  Or we take on a task because it feels good to be needed and asked.  We fear that no one else could possibly do it, so we sign on the dotted line.

When others are looking, we sometimes put on the voice and physical appearance of “Super Christian,” and then snap at our family, grumble and complain, and gossip about others as we sink into the seats of our cars and drive from church to home.

Then there are those moments when we shove the dishes into the dishwasher and slam the pot down on the counter wishing that someone would recognize what we do.  It may not be Nobel prize worthy, but this is our life’s service we’re talking about!  This is self-sacrificing.  This is humbling.  This is always putting others first!

It’s not always articulated in our heart and mind that way. It’s not something we always admit or even recognize.  But our motives are distorted and we’ve begun to serve for trophies–polished brass rewards of attention, praise, personal pride and recognition from others.

Jesus warned: “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven” (Matthew 6:1).

We shouldn’t serve in any capacity to get a trophy.  If we do, we’re forfeiting heavenly reward, trading eternal glory for a temporary self-esteem boost.

But We Serve As If God Was Handing Out Trophies

Here’s the challenge, though.  With pure motives and sometimes hidden service, without seeking praise and recognition, we can still serve with all our heart as if we would get a trophy.

We don’t seek the prize, but we strive with all our might to be worthy of it.  Because even when we are invisible to everyone else, God sees us.

He sees you.  All of your effort, your service, your laying down of self, your sacrificial giving, your stepping out in faith, your steady faithfulness, your lack of sleep, your soul emptied out.

Just like my singing friend.  Fully knowing that he wouldn’t get a trophy, he still sang loudly and enthusiastically during the program.  He gave his best effort anyway and I’m positive that God was beaming at every word he sang.  God didn’t miss a single second of his heartfelt praise.

In the same way, we worship wholeheartedly, we serve menially, we act selflessly not for our own glory, but for the glory of God.

We pick up toys for the “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”  We work at our jobs not so we receive promotions, but so that our “light (will) shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).  We walk away from gossip.  We take a meal to the family who needs it.  We write the note of encouragement.  We pray for our friend.  We teach the Sunday School class year after year after year.  We rock the baby.

Because God sees and cares.

We sing with all our hearts not because some human being is going to hand us a physical trophy, but we’re singing for God, so that He will be pleased.  This is our worship, the offering we place before Him.  When we grow weary or frustrated, feeling annoyed or walked all over, pouring out our very soul for the sake of others, we do not give up and go through halfhearted motions of service.  Our motivation remains the same, to serve God, to bring Him glory, to give Him praise.

Because even when no one else notices, we know that God sees.

We remember what Paul wrote:

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).

and

So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith (Galatians 6:9-10 MSG).

For those who feel invisible at times, here’s a video from Nicole Johnson on The Invisible Woman.  I hope you are blessed by it as much as I was:

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King