Friday, 18 March 2011

Finding Motivation

Norm MacDonaldWe are all motivated to do something. My motivation "problem" is that I'm not always motivated enough to do things that I don't want to do - even though they have to be done. I have to confess that I not only procrastinate difficult things, but I more frequently procrastinate the things that I don't enjoy doing. This of course also has an immediate spiritual implication for my walk with Christ.
Initially, I thought that I just generally lacked motivation, but then I realised that I could find plenty of things to do that I wanted to do or enjoyed, rather than do the things I needed to do. By doing the things I wanted to do I could excuse myself from the things that I didn't want to do by fooling myself that I've been "too busy", "too tired", or "too interrupted". For me, motivation is the fuel for action, and there are some things in my life that run on the smell of an oily rag while there are other things need more fuel than an A380 on take-off!
¶ Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.Phil. 3:12
Paul the Apostle was obviously motivated. What he achieved was outstanding. He wrote nearly two thirds of the New Testament. He introduced Christianity into Asia Minor and Europe. He planted churches, trained leaders, prayed ceaselessly, wrote prolifically, and looked accusing Emperors in the eye as he challenged them over the eternal condition of their soul. Did he ever lack motivation? Apart from his ministerial duties, I doubt though that Paul had to mow grass, take a dog for a walk, pick kids up from school, get the rubbish bins out every second Thursday, tidy up his garage after the kids have used his tools, maintain his churches' websites, produce teaching videos, upload a weekly audio podcast, do radio interviews, lobby politicians over issues of public concern, and maintain his apostolic duties. But I digress needlessly because I am sure that while he didn't have to do these mundane things that I all too frequently lack sufficient motivation for, he had far weightier responsibilities to bear that would have been n less arduous. Somehow, the seasoned apostle found the necessary motivation to keep going.
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.Phil. 3:14
Jesus was motivated. Was there ever a time when He was not motivated? I was reading Matthew 26 where Jesus went out to the Garden of Gethsemane to talk with His Father. He was in agony. He was motivated to do His Father's will but in this tender moment of Christ's incarnated humanity He asked the Father if there was another way - other than the Cross. How did Christ push through this episode of doing what had to be done even though He would have preferred another way? He yielded to the Father's will. I want to be motivated by the will of God too.
"And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will."
Matthew 26:39
¶ For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
Romans 12:3
I'm trying to learn this lesson of remedying my lack of motivation for certain tasks. I have to remind myself that God's will is best for my life and that as I submit to it, I am the one who will be blessed. My lack of motivation is processed through a growing knowledge of God's will. That is, He not only knows what will happen, He ordains what will happen in my life and circumstances. He knows my busyness and the demands placed upon me. He knows all of the interruptions that will come my way and has even ordained them for my benefit! And despite all of this, He wants me to be somewhat motivated for what I am responsible for - such as mowing our grass, doing the family dishes, picking up kids and so on.
Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them:Romans 12:6a
I'm learning that I need to keep up the appropriate fuel for each of my motivation tanks. When it comes to what God has gifted me to do, I am easily motivated. Not only that, I enjoy it and even feel energised from doing it. Mind you, I still have to regularly refuel this motivation tank. I've learned that reading the right material, listening to the right teachers and preachers, and meeting with similarly motivated people keeps me motivated in these easily motivated areas.
But I need to also fuel those motivation tanks for the responsibilities that I don't enjoy. For those moments, I remember Christ. I remember that Christ asked His Father to accomplish His will in His life even though He was somewhat reluctant to do it. I too can ask God for the strength to do what I must do even though I don't want to do it. I can also pray to God for His will to be done when I am struggling to do it. This is a key motivation principle for the follower of Christ.
Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.Romans 12:11
Motivation ChallengeMotivation Remedy
Busyness ("I've been too busy")Write a To Do List with priorities and scheduled deadlines
Energy ("I'm too tired", "I couldn't be bothered")Plan to do it with someone else (If you're not motivated to do an exercise walk, organise to walk with someone else.)
Organisation ("I haven't had time")Commit to developing routines. Learn to stop doing some tasks in order to commence or recommence other tasks.
To be motivated to achieve anything, you must-
    1. Set goals (with deadlines) - For example, "For the month of March I will read one Christian book and two Biblical books."
    2. Meet with others who share similar goals. If your goal is to improve your praying, meet with others who want to pray (Legana Christian Church holds a weekly prayer meeting each Sunday night). If your goal is to read more Scripture meet with one or two others who are also committed to the regular reading of Scripture.
    3. Fuel your motivation with inspiration. If your goal is to lose weight: watch, listen, speak with, read about, those who have gone where you want to go. If your goal is to lead one soul to Christ this year read books on soul-winning, watch videos of effective soul-winners, speak with soul winners then move out of your comfort zone into another zone where lost souls dwell.
Spiritual motivation needs to be developed in order to maintain our spiritual disciplines. We all need some motivation to practice prayer, receive Scripture input in its various forms (reading/study/memorisation/meditation/praying), fellowship in a meaningful way, worship with all our heart, witness for Christ, and share our spiritual gifts. History is replete with believers and churches who lost sight of their vision for Christ's cause and glory and became unmotivated. May God help each of us to be fully motivated in both spiritual and natural responsibilities so that we are the best ambassadors for Christ that we can be!
Are there things you're putting off? Do you struggle with being responsible for those things that you should do but don't necessarily want to do? Like me, you might need motivating.
But have you identified those productive areas of your life where you are motivated? Can you identify in what ways you are spiritually motivated? Which of the spiritual Christian disciplines come easiest to you? Prayer? Witnessing? Bible study? Worship? Acts of service? Giving? Each of these disciplines can be expressed within the church and in the market-place. John Maxwell says that he would only need to see one day of a person's schedule to see where a person is both gifted and motivated. God has made you with some natural abilities that require minimal motivation, but He has also given you some responsibilities that will demand being done even though we are "too busy", "too tired", or "too interrupted". For those low-motivation areas, we need God's will to become our will.
Father, help me to do Your will. Help me to stay motivated for those things You've put delight in my heart for doing. Help me to be motivated enough to get done what I am responsible for but don't always want to do. Help me to be a source of inspiration and motivation for others. Help us as a church to motivated for what breaks Your heart: the reconciliation of lost people to You. For Your glory, we pray, Amen.
Eph. 3:21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ps. Andrew

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