Making people happy motivates me;
I think it may be a natural part of my personality and birth order to not want to let anyone down. I feel quite a bit of responsibility to make sure my spouse, children, family and friends are happy, especially with me. I get frustrated when I can’t change a circumstance to improve their lives. I try to be as faithful and dependable as I can in any given situation. That being said, I have been confronted by a powerful question, asked in one of my email devotionals, which has hit me right between the eyes.
“Is our desire to deliver happiness sourced in love or fear?” Michelle Cushatt
I had to admit that too often my answer would be fear. Fear of rejection, fear of punishment or simply fear of not being loved. Fear-filled motivation can lead down a road of settling for less than God’s best for us and the people we are trying to help. I believe in the seasons ahead of us it will be important to be rid of any motivation based in fear. It will be important to take a serious look at the “why” behind our actions. An issue I must address personally, is the power of fear in my life.
Fear can be a powerful motivator.
Fear is a normal part of life and is a powerful tool that can be used to our advantage. Fear, used properly, will keep us safe; I love being safe. Fear helps me seek safety during a tornado, or keeps me from crossing in front of a moving vehicle. However, fear as the motivational source in my relationships has lead into some dangerous situations. I know I have risked my reputation, my physical health, and my spiritual well-being because fear led me to do some wrong actions based on what I felt a person needed for their happiness.
Fear-filled motivation is actually selfish.
“When a desire to do good turns into desperation for control, sacrificial love morphs into self-centered perfectionism. Then, it’s just plain poison. To others? Yes. But mostly to us.” Michelle Cushatt
I have been so desperate to control how others felt about me that I became more centered on what I could get instead of what they actually needed. Though the actions appeared very selfless the root was full of self. To others I would appear to be the one willing to help, to go, to serve. I would change my plans, my schedule, my desires to meet their perceived needs. I would give up my time, my money, my dreams so they could have theirs. While outwardly it would appear great, inwardly those things were sometimes done simply to earn love; trying to meet my need for love instead of the best interest of all concerned. This “need” to feel loved when coupled with my fear of rejection has led to most of the compromises I have made in my life. I must confess that I have been known to be so fearful of rejection that I have sacrificed more than I dare to mention here, so instead I will just stop and say how thankful I am for God’s complete mercy, forgiveness and the cleansing and renewal He offers!
Love is always God’s motivation.
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
That forgiveness and mercy I count on is completely motivated by God’s love. When love it the motivating force it is about what is best for the other person without needing something in return. God, the Father freely gave His Son to die a brutal death on the cross because He knew I needed to be free of the sin that so easily entangles. This love, so full of freedom, provides the only true happiness; everlasting joy. He offers this forgiveness and freedom, not because He fears rejection, but because He knows that it is best for me. God leaves the choice of response to me without controlling or manipulating it in any way. Because of that He experiences rejection; many times our response to God’s gifts have left His heart hurting. Thankfully, this does not stop God’s love and He is compelled to keep showing it to all of His creation, including me.
I want to be compelled by this same love.
For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all… 2 Corinthians 5:14
As I understand the depths of the love God has for me it will compel me to show the same kind of love to others; motivated to love freely without the need to control their response. The more I depend on the Holy Spirit within me the more I will realize that I must not be controlled by any spirit of fear.(2 Timothy 1:7) I want to ask myself two questions every time I feel the need to do something to make someone happy. Does this action show a love for God and is it freely loving the person? I base these questions on what Jesus called the two greatest commandments.
Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself”. Matthew 22:36-37
If the answer to those questions is yes then I know it is exactly what God is calling me to do. If the answer is no I must run back to my loving Heavenly Father and get refilled with His perfect love that will cast out fear. Then I can reevaluate how I can meet the needs of those around me. Only then can I be confident that any happiness they end up with will come from God, the true source of all they need.
Now that is motivating!