If it hadn’t required law school and…you know…brains and whatnot, I would be a lawyer right now. Except I wanted to do it exclusively so I could someday say to a colleague, “See ya later, litigator!”
It’s all about the line! It’s probably just as well that I didn’t. For many reasons, yes, but also, some people might’ve considered it the wrong motivation for a career choice. But come on, the line! Plus, somewhere in the course of that long-term legal education I could’ve also used the line, “After while, legal file.” So—totally worth it.
The secret to motivating people. What is it? How many times do we offer forever-heaven-points, for instance, to get nursery workers? Or offer to wash people’s cars to get them to keep Sunday School records? Or pay for their kids’ to college so they’ll help with the 7th grade boys’ sleep-over?
Guilting, bribing, manipulating, even brilliantly arguing that case…those don’t usually work for very long when we’re seeking to provoke people to serve. They don’t even work for me on myself.
Do you ever try to reason with your own motivation? “YEAHHHHH! I’m going to do that project right now! And clean my house! Do every piece of laundry! Paint the kids’ bedrooms! Paint the entire church fellowship hall!!”
Then before you get to even the first project, your motivation sasses back to you, “Nah, just kidding, bro. What I meant was that I’m unna just get on Facebook for an hour and then take a little siesta.”
In Samuel’s final public speech—his “closing arguments,” as it were—he encourages his people: “Above all, fear the LORD and worship him faithfully with all your heart; consider the great things he has done for you,” (2 Samuel 12:24, CSB).
Anytime we’re interested in seeing motivation resurrected—our own or others’—considering our great God and all He’s done is the perfect start. Real motivation to work/serve begins with an “all your heart” love for Him.
When people serve out of obligation or they feel used or manipulated, not only is the service half-hearted, but it’s not likely to continue very long. It’s exhausting, draining, often fruitless and can end in burnout.
Whole-hearted-service produces joy in jobs big and small. Our God notices that. “For God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you demonstrated for his name by serving the saints—and by continuing to serve them,” (Hebrews 6:10, CSB). The service described there is one that grows out of love for the Lord—for His name. And it’s a service, according to the last part of the verse, that keeps going.
As we focus on the amazingness of our infinite, all-knowing, all-loving God who is worthy of our love and praise and service, that love and praise and service happens organically. He is our motivation and it’s our joy. “Serve the Lord with gladness, come before him with joyful songs,” (Psalm 100:2, CSB).
So we can weigh ourselves and others down with guilt and pressure. Or we can get free so that service is part of joy-filled worship. You can’t even stop a worshipper from loving on those babies in the nursery or hanging out with 7th grade boys. They do it with dedication. Not litigation. ν