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Spiritual Growth

Something Stronger than Motivation

Interesting fact: In the NKJV and KJV versions of the Bible, the word motivation is never used. There are probably many reasons for this, but I’m going to offer my simplified assessment of why this is.  Motivation in and of itself, is a wavering concept. It represents a feeling but is not necessarily indicative of an action.  And feelings are tricky.

The concept of defining what motivates us is often built upon the foundations of what we desire.  That’s dangerous because without refined spiritual focus, we run the risk that what we desire is quite flawed. If someone even suspects this might be the case, committing to a particular decision becomes that much more difficult.  If blinded by this idea, we run the risk of putting our energy into people and ideas based upon pride, selfishness, hurt, and a multitude of other powerful yet fleeting emotions.

Even with the most pure intentions, we tie some of our most important decisions around how we feel because we are not grounded in the truth of what we need. And when it all crumbles, when we can’t get to the finish line, we fear that we lack motivation.  What has happened, however, is much worse. Not reaching our goals has much to do with the decisions we’ve made along the way.  We’ve created habits that lead to complacency in behavior, accepting less than desirable outcomes. To an outsider, this would defy logic because we are working for what we want, but in our hearts, being comfortable has beat out being challenged. We then label this as a problem of maintaining motivation. What if it isn’t? What if not reaching our goals is actually a spiritual problem?

The most difficult decision/commitment we will ever make is of a spiritual nature because it goes against our human nature.  Our spiritual decisions, or lack thereof, build the foundation from which all other decisions are made.  It’s how we create our moral compass. Staying focused on God does not require motivation, but demands commitment.  It means you have to make a choice that cannot be predicated upon how we feel in a moment, and for many of us, that’s a difficult proposition.  Religion often times does not help either, because we have hard wired to believe that we should feel a certain way. When we don’t, we question our spiritual connection.

Interesting enough, God’s love for us has no defined prerequisites tied to emotion.  When Paul writes about love in Corinthians, they are no feelings attached, only actions. This does not downplay the importance of emotions, I’m only asking that we put this in perspective.  I know God loves me, even when I don’t feel like it.  That is what carries me through waiting periods, through disappointment, and through sadness.  I may not understand what is going on, but I know He is there.  Some may find that crazy, but I find it comforting.  It’s in that knowing, that God gives me the strength to press forward.  I’ve already made the important choice to trust Him and in that choice, I can hold onto the rope knowing better is on the other end, even when I can’t see the other side or am unsure of what better actually means.

Knowing takes time and change rarely occurs when the original behavior/choice/idea is still perceived as an option. When people struggle with maintaining motivation, what they are really struggling with is making a decision they can stand by.  And by not standing firm in a decision, a choice has already been made. We often look at our spiritual lives and day-to-day lives as two separate entities, when in truth, they are one continuous journey.  Our spiritual relationship should teach us how to operate in our day-to-day earthly ones.  If we know how to maintain a strong relationship with God through the storms, then we know how to manage the rain that comes in our other interactions, because we have been blessed with something more than motivation.  God has given us a strength that can’t be bought or earned.  It’s divine in nature.  I have often made the mistake of hoping God would cure how I felt.  Instead, He gave me the building blocks to develop my character which in turn, gave me perspective, helping me to better work through my emotions and honestly define my needs.  So when you find yourself struggling to maintain motivation and to cross the finish line, take your eyes off the goal and onto God.  A preacher once said…Our prayers are answered while we are busy doing the work of God.  I now understand what that means.  When we focus on committing to a stronger spiritual relationship, God will equip us with a strength unlike any other to deal with our earthly ones. He instills in us a peace that cannot be broken.  Motivation comes from what’s inside of us, and sometimes that just isn’t enough so God equips us with a strength that comes from His Spirit. It can withstand anything.  I’m a living witness to that.

E.

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