Motivation - Part 1
While we live in a time of tremendous opportunity and prosperity, it seems that many people, even Christians are unmotivated or actually depressed. The following thoughts are presented in the hope that it will light in a fire in those who are struggling with depression, apathy or a lack of purpose.
Live God’s Vision
God has already given us a vision of what He wants us to become, so we don’t have to come up with, "what do I want to be like?"(Galatians 5:22-23; Matthew 5-7; 2 Peter 1:5-11). I truly believe that most people want to develop the habits and qualities that the Bible presents as good and noble. Life would be easier if I had more patience, and I believe that most of us already know that we would be happier if we exercised more self-control and thought about ourselves less and less. The fact that God commands every Christian to reach these goals is proof that we can do it. Now ask yourself this question, "What will my level of happiness be like in the future if I don’t change today?" If you don’t like the person you are right now, then why stay there? Note: Too many people sit around waiting for a vision, or waiting for the motivation to pursue a vision, but God has already given us the vision!
Practice the Part
Too many people are waiting for instant self-control, instant kindness, or they are waiting for a feeling to come over them and lead them in that direction. The good news is that our personal growth doesn’t have to depend upon unpredictable feelings, nor does it depend upon something happening in the future. You and I can start right now. We can start today! (2 Corinthians 6:1-2) God says that we do have complete control over our own spiritual growth, "Now for this reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge.." (2 Peter 1:5). The same truth in seen in the expression, "laid aside the old self with it evil practices, and have put on the new self" (Colossians 3:9-10). Remember, we were not born with evil habits or evil thoughts (1 Corinthians 14:20). All evil thoughts and habits are acquired, the good news is that since they aren’t inherently part of us, they can also be forsaken or unlearned. If you want to be kind, then you must practice kindness, and you must start practicing it today. The same is true with all other noble qualities, such as love, peace, patience, goodness, self-control and so on. Each evil and sinful thought, must be replaced by a good and spiritual thought (Philippians 4:8; 2 Corinthians 10:5 "we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ").
We Don’t Need A Seminar
The good news is that most of us don’t need another class to tell us about personal growth or such things a personal evangelism. We already know what God wants us to be like and we already know what the Bible says, we simply need to put it into practice.
Live Your Dreams
That is, live your dreams, and not the dreams of someone else. One writer noted that a practical way to accomplish this is first to kill your T.V. set (or, in our modern times, the computer). Now, I know that are educational and valuable uses for both mediums, and I enjoy using both. But the writer did ask this question, "On which side of the glass do you wish to live?" When we are watching T.V., we are passively watching others having fun. We are watching the lives of actors and actresses, we are watching people fulfilling their dreams and getting paid for it. If we have cable, we are actually paying to watch other people achieve their goals. I don’t find first century Christians being passive spectators in life (Acts 8:4). Instead of watching the news, they were making the news (Acts 17:6 "These men who have upset the world have come here also"). Instead of reacting to life, they were making life react to them. Ask yourself this question, "Who do you admire and why?" Typically we spend much of our life admiring other people, instead of being a person that others admire. Instead of living through the accomplishments of some other person, why not actually live? Instead of engaging in hero-worship, why not be a hero? Remember, living your dreams can start right now.
- I have always admired people who can instantly make friends and seem to be so at ease in striking up conversations with others and sharing the gospel. The truth is that anyone can be like this. This isn’t a trait that some people have and everyone else is left out. It might come more naturally to some than others, but God expects all of us to be active in sharing our faith (Matthew 28:19). The Bible says concerning Paul, "So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present" (Acts 17:17). In addition, don’t feel sorry for yourself and don’t envy the person who seems to be able to be outgoing without much effort, for they are probably frustrated that they can’t do something you can do. Everyone has areas on which they need to work.
Leave High School
This doesn’t mean drop out if you are in High School. Many of us picked up some bad habits and thought patterns in High School. The fear of being embarrassed and the fear of what others think about us probably entered our minds in High School or Junior High. How many of us are still organizing our lives around what other people might think? Someone said, if you encounter a person who is afraid of looking bad, you can beat them every time. To this day, many of us are still governed by these fears. We don’t share the gospel, because we are afraid of ridicule or losing friends. We are afraid of asking for help, because of what people might think. We are afraid of taking risks, like the early Christians did in spreading the gospel to the entire creation. In contrast, we should be very concerned about what God thinks about us. We should have a greater concern about offending God than offending people. Paul said, "I am not ashamed of the gospel" (Romans 1:16). One sure way of never growing is to be afraid of men (John 12:42-43).
Definitely Planned Work
Someone noted that one hour of planning can save three hours of execution, and that most crises are the result of a failure to plan. Too many of us rush into our day without any forethought or planning. Here are some things to consider:
- Before we approach any day, we should go to God in prayer. I am amazed of how much I can forget, and how many of these things I remember in prayer.
- Each day is another opportunity to practice godliness and share the gospel with someone. Remember, we only exist on this earth to serve God and His purposes (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14; Ephesians 2:10). My purpose today is to glorify Him. I believe if we keep God and His kingdom at the forefront of our minds, then we won’t make the mistake of demanding from relationships, work, or play what only He can provide. If I see my career as merely a way of glorifying Him, then I will probably avoid the temptation to derive all my value and happiness from what is happening at work. I will probably enjoy work, recreation, and all my other activities more, if I view everything as a chance to let my light shine and bring others to Christ.
- Have a list. One of the things that can sap the life out of any person is too many unfinished tasks. We can lose a lot of stream if we are burdened down with responsibilities we have never completed. We will have more success in helping others if we have a list of what needs to be done today. Who do I need to call? Who needs a class? Who needs encouragement? For whom do I need to pray?
It is amazing how much time you can save and how much you can accomplish if you are organized. We have all experienced the frustration of spinning our wheels because we can’t find something, or because we forgot about something. Do we spend a lot of time searching for things? Do we spend a lot of time having to do things over? Being organized means having a backup plan. That is, if an appointment falls through, we have something else to do. If we are caught in traffic, we have something meaningful from which we can learn, like a cassette or we have something to read.
Have Huge Major Goals
Any goal that does not excite our imagination isn’t much of a goal. For the Christian this should be no problem. Our goals are huge, they have eternal consequences! What could be a higher goal than, "Therefore, you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:48)? Or, "Therefore be imitators of God" (Ephesians 5:1).
Use The Right Chemicals
We aren’t taking about drugs or personal beauty products, rather, the Bible makes it clear that there are already good chemicals in our bodies, which are produced by such things as, "Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praises" (James 5:13). Solomon said, "A joy heart is a good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones" (Proverbs 17:22). We have all experienced the good feeling that comes when we finish a task, put in a good day at work, help someone, or just do the right thing. By contrast, we have all experienced the crummy feelings that come when we sin, neglect our duty, are lazy, fail to rise to the occasion, act selfishly, or hurt others. If you want to feel better, here are some simple things you can do:
- Become a Christian. Getting rid of all that guilt will give you tremendous motivation.
- Attend regularly (Hebrews 10:24-25).
- Take care of your appearance. Sloppiness just tends to lead to sloppy thinking. Someone said to someone in the grunge movement, "If you don’t comb your hair, clean your room, take a bath, or wear clean and crisp clothing, no wonder you are depressed". Nothing like a haircut, clean clothes, a clean car, and a clean house to make one feel better.
- Spend your money wisely. Financial problems can destroy whatever motivation you have.
Mark Dunagan/Beaverton Church of Christ/503-644-9017