Dreams | God's Plan | Identity

Motives Behind Motives

By D.R. Kelly

I question my motives…often. I constantly think about WHY I am doing something…what’s my motive? I kind of see it as my way of self-examining. You see, I love being useful. I love being able to help others, and on the surface level this is a wonderful thing. On the outside, it comes across as selfless, encouraging, genuine, loving, and all the other pleasant adjectives to describe godly “one anothering”. However, I try not to discount the influence my flesh can have if I am not careful. See, my flesh sees helping others as a way of being recognized, getting constant pats on the back, having people like me, etc…all selfish things. These are also things that no one would really care to admit to either because, well, it would come across as sucky. No one wants to be seen as manipulative, needy, codependent, or the opposite of useful…a user. So, very often, I find myself questioning why I am eager to be helpful in any situation.

Now, don’t get me wrong with where I am going here. It is great to put the interests of others before our own. This is after all what Christ exampled for us throughout Scripture. It is what we are to imitate in our own daily faith walk. Plus, I don’t know one Christian that doesn’t want to hear Jesus say to them “Well done, my good and faithful servant”. Of course we want to hear that! I guess what I am thinking on is that fine line between selfless and selfish as we serve. More importantly, how keen are we in discerning the difference?

On the top of my self-examination list is asking myself, “would I be as eager to [fill in the blank] if no one knew I was doing it?” That would be followed by “will it matter if I don’t get a thank you?” These two questions are important because my response will reveal any flesh motive I may have. Especially since we live in a world where people have an insatiable need to be acknowledged, recognized, and rewarded for doing good. It is a horribly skewed perception on what our true reward is for doing good things in life. It makes me think about the Scripture that says, “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matt 6:3-4) Helping others, serving others…it’s not supposed to be about us, and that’s simply because this life we live is not about us.

Sometimes, I think as people, we spend so much time being confused about our purpose. So we do things (i.e., serving/helping) that make us feel like we have accomplished great successes. We support amazing causes, volunteer to help those in need, and give ourselves away to no end. What inspires us to do all this though? Are we secretly aspiring to receive some form of accolade? Or, perhaps we do it to bask in the glory of a great reputation? Whatever the reason, if the underlying sentiment is “self” motivated, then it can lead to a never-ending chase. A chasing in the wind that resembles more like existing than living, and existing will never satisfy us deep down where it really matters. That’s not what we were created to do. No, we were created for greater, and it starts and ends with us doing two things. Loving God, and loving others. This is our purpose, short and simple. Love in itself is action. Therefore, in love we help others. In love we allow ourselves to be useful. In love we become selfless. In love we examine ourselves and our motives to be sure that we are truly acting in love.

So, we examine ourselves very often. We no longer exist naive to the trickery of our very selfish flesh, but find life through Christ in discovering how to truly give of ourselves to others. We become mindful to examine ourselves daily because we do want to fight the good fight with intention and godly integrity. We examine ourselves all the time because we genuinely desire to live out our true purpose. That is where we find satisfaction. Satisfaction in every wonderful nook and cranny of it, with Jesus Christ smack in the middle. Thankfully, we have the Holy Spirit to convict us along the way, and love us into correction. It fills us with hope that each new day we grow into better and more spiritually mature servants. So be encouraged as you serve well in love, and remember that God’s grace is always sufficient enough to see us through.

D. R. Kelly is a Board Certified Christian Life Coach, based in Loganville, Georgia. She has degrees in Biblical Counseling from Luther Rice University, and Human Services Counseling in Marriage and Family from Liberty University. She is a member of the International Christian Coach Association (ICCA). D. R. Kelly can be followed through her blog willing2grow on WordPress at https://willing2growsite.wordpress.com/.

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