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What Motivates Me?

As I was reading Daniel 2 today, I encountered this statement, “Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.” (v. 17-18) It got me to thinking, “I would be highly motivated to pray if I believed execution was imminent!” Daniel didn’t have to give much explanation or work very hard to persuade his friends because personal survival was a sufficient motivation.
Fortunately, I am not currently living in imminent danger but the scenario led me to ask, “What motivates me? What keeps me committed to what I think is important and provides energy for my pursuits in the midst of the ups and downs of real life?” It is impossible to sum up personal motivation in a few simple statements but as I begin this new year, I am aware that the following are aspects of what keeps me going:
• My life (and yours) is a partnership with God. After God revealed the King’s dream to Daniel, he prayed, “I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors: You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you, you have made known to us the dream of the king.” (v. 23) Daniel was going to appear before the king but God provided the information he needed to succeed. In similar fashion, I have work to do, a family to support, responsibilities to pursue and causes to fight. Along the way, God provides wisdom and power so that these activities have eternal influence.
• I love the people God has put in my life. Just as Daniel had his three friends, God has filled my life with individuals I care deeply about. My wife, kids, and grandkids are extremely important to me. I am not always happy with them but I always want what is best for them. If I am honest, the times I am upset with them is caused by the sense that they are either under-achieving or performing below their abilities. In contrast, I find great satisfaction when they learn new things, grow wiser and develop new skills.
• I love helping others succeed. I know some people gain energy from personal accolades, being in charge or finding answers but, for whatever reason, I gain motivation when I feel like I have helped others find new insight, persevere in tough circumstances, develop healthier relationships or discover the skills they need for their personal or professional life.
• I remember the change. There was a time in my life when I didn’t know Jesus and had no sense of what my life was all about. I did things in life because I enjoyed them but I had no sense that I was created for a purpose. I grew up the youngest child in a dramatic home. My response was to develop strategic numbness to protect myself from getting hurt in the conflict. Since I met my Savior, the numbness has gradually been replaced with the understanding that I am “God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)
2012 promises to be filled with opportunities and obstacles, successes and setbacks, breakthroughs and bottlenecks. My goal is to maintain my motivation through it all so that I stay true to my convictions.

One Response

  1. I was just (attempting to share) this type of message with my two sons last night as we were all coming or crashing down from the holiday rush. Though gifts under the tree, vacations, weekends etc are fun, if those are the only things that motivate us, we’ll never be truly satisfied. Eph. 2:10 is the perfect answer to the age old question “What motivates me?” I’m definitely taking this home to share with my family. Thanks Bill for sharing your wisdom! Well said and timely as usual!

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