Motivation has always intrigued me (Tori). Why do I do what I do and for what purpose? Growing up, my mom always said, “Tor, you have to do the right thing for the right reason. It has to be both.”
Bad motivation asks, “What’s in it for me?” while good motivation asks, “What’s in it for us?” Relationships are the best purifier of motives because they force you out of “me” mindset and into an “us” mindset.
Jason and I love to have friends over for dinner. But I noticed a few years back how doing this began to reveal something inside me I didn’t know was there. I found myself an absolute stress ball whenever we had company coming over. At the time, my kids were little and I wasn’t exactly thriving in my new season of motherhood. I was feeling pretty incompetent those days.
There was one thing, however, where I felt some sense of competency – my ability to clean the house. That was a place my valiant efforts actually paid off. Friends would come over and say, “Wow! How do you keep your house clean with all these kids?” I felt appreciated. Like there was something right and good about my life. I held onto it.
Until one day, about an hour before our guests arrived, I actually yelled at my kids. I channeled my inner-Martha and barked, “Pick up a broom or sit on your hands until the guests get here and nobody gets hurt!” With a command like that I’m sure they were thinking, “What broom? You mean the one you’re flying around on??!!”
Then I heard my mom’s voice in my head, “right thing for the right reason, Tor.”
I stood in the living room with a cordless vacuum in my hand and prayed, “How do I do this with the right motive God?” As I reflected I realized that I was frantically cleaning the house because I needed to be appreciated by our guests. Operating out of this insecurity caused me to lose all grace in the process. My motive was wrong.
After repenting of my little episode with the kids, it was time to have another set of guests to this house. I felt the same surge of motivation to clean as as I always did, only this time I was determined to channel that motivation to love others. “Thank you God for this energy to clean. Help me to use it to love others. Jason loves a clean house. My kids need to live in a place of order and cleanliness. Thank you for this energy to clean. How can I make this house most comfortable for our guest? Thank you for this energy to clean.”
I began to channel my motivation through the grid of love instead of the grid of fear; fear of not upholding my “clean house” reputation.
So when the kids ran back in the house with mud on their feet moments before the guest arrived, I could ask them to clean it up without the horror of my precious reputation being tarnished. This was a big victory for me.
I don’t always get this motivation thing right, but when I do people get loved around here. Especially the ones closest to me.
I am learning that the spirit of love brings grace while the spirit of fear brings chaos. Doing the right thing for the right reason is life-giving. You were right mom. It has to be both.
“Where there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there is confusion and every evil practice.” James 3:16