In a recent homework assignment, of all places, I came across a quote by A.W. Tozer: “It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, it is why he does it.” This is only the first part of the quote, but I’ll finish it later.
Early this week, I was pondering what drives me. Specifically, I was in a conversation with several of my friends about topics pertaining to motivation. While other conversations went on, I silently realized that in our similar ventures, my friends and I often gather motivation more from our failures than our successes.
There’s nothing wrong with using our failures to motivate us, but I fear that we sometimes recognize this increase in motivation after failure to the point that it makes us more okay with failure. I say this because I often fall into this trap. I will justify certain failures because I have already told myself, “Oh, it’ll help me do better next time.”
To put it into an analogy, it’s as if I’m playing basketball, but instead of shooting to score, I shoot to miss in hopes that I can get the rebound and get an easier shot next time. The obvious problem is that I won’t always get that rebound. Even if I do, who’s to say the next shot would be any easier?
So with that in mind, we should always strive for success, and not just in spite of our failures. But simply striving for success is still just the “what” and not the “why.”
So why should we try to be our best? What standard is there for us? A common question in our culture today even: what’s in it for us?
See, we could do it for money, or power, or knowledge, or pleasure, or just about anything else the world values. The problem is, where will that leave us? I don’t mean where will that leave us in 5, 10, or 50 years. I mean where will that leave us in eternity.
You could easily argue here that there is no such thing as eternity; this world is all there is. To be honest, I don’t really have concrete proof to refute such a statement. But I have faith, and I have the Word of God which is filled with hope for an eternity.
For the sake of this post, I’m going to avoid getting into that discussion.
What I’m saying though is that if you believe in an afterlife, especially the picture of the afterlife given in the Bible, all of those things (money, power, knowledge, pleasure, etc.) will mean nothing after we die. I would even argue that if the years we are here on earth are “like a fleeting shadow” (Psalm 144:4) when compared to eternity, what value should those things really have to us now?
Simply from a point of efficiency, why should we chase after something for all of our lives that will be meaningless the second we pass from this world? Also, I don’t know about you, but I have pursued some of those things in my life before. Even when I attained whatever had been my motivation, I never truly felt fulfilled.
The simple answer to all of this is to find your motivation in God and that which would be pleasing to God. The question that immediately follows is “What exactly is pleasing to God?”
It seems like a big question. In ways, it is. This is why it’s so important to get into the Word, because God lays out these things. I feel I could unpack this question a lot more in a separate post, so I might hold out to do that. But for the sake of right now, Jesus tells us in Scripture to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your strength and with all your mind” and to “love your neighbor as yourself.”
Honestly, I think a good start towards pursuing what is pleasing to God is to run all that you do through those two items. Our drive should be to do the things that will display love for God and for others.
There’s also great safety in committing our actions to Him, too. His promises are good. Proverbs 16:3 tells us, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” 1 Corinthians 10:31 also tells us, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
I think it is important note that just because we commit these things to God or do them for God, doesn’t mean we, without fail, get whatever we want every time. We know we also must endure trials. But, the joy is that these things are established in God.
My homework assignment covered this very well in my opinion. The reading was from the book Management by Proverbs by my professor and coach, Dr. Michael Zigarelli. The book runs through different principles of management, aimed towards the world of business in many ways, but all easily translatable into many aspects of our lives.
In the second principle, it is explained that where it says “will succeed” in the above Proverb is sometimes given as “are established. But that this is indicative of our desires being anchored in God than in our own interests. “(Our plans) become divinely-anchored rather than dependent on circumstances. In this mindset, our preoccupation is with God’s will, displacing former priorities like expediency, control, promotion, power, and job satisfaction.”
I also want to say that a life where our interests are anchored in God is a much more joyful life.
That all being said, don’t let failure or fear of failure be what drives you. Pursue the type of excellence that is exemplified for us by God. Rejoice in successes and how He has provided. Still bounce back from failures that will inevitably occur. But in all things, keep your eyes on Him.
As promised, the remainder of the quote: “The motive is everything. Let a man sanctify the Lord God in his heart and he can thereafter do no common act.” If we act in a way to act for God, our actions will have greater impact than we could ever imagine, even eternal impacts.
To God be the Glory.