Motivation – Part Two

We are discussing motivation. We are either driven by eternal motivations or by worldly motivations. We have looked at the worldly motivations…

1> Money or financial rewards

2> Accomplishments

3> The desire to affect change and influence

Your motivation is the reason why you do what you do. It’s the thing, person, feeling, or goal that drives you to act. Whatever you are living for.

We have looked at worldly motivations – temporary motivations that distract mankind from the truth. Even as Christians we may fool ourselves into believing that making money or being liked is more important than sharing the gospel. Success, notoriety, and influence can call to us like sirens, pulling us into their unfulfilling whirlpools. Clever deception masquerades as authenticity, and temptation abounds.

We live in a day and age when sound doctrine is being replaced with self-serving ideas that are devoid of spiritual truth. Churches across the world are dying because they no longer accurately preach and teach God’s Word. It is quite possible that we have arrived at the dreadful hour Paul warned his disciple Timothy about. A time”when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear” (2 Timothy 4:3). 

Paul also predicted that there would be terrible times in the last days. In 2 Timothy 3:2-5, he wrote,

“People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power.”

Does that sound familiar to you? To love oneself is humanism. To love money is materialism. To love pleasure is hedonism. All three are major motivators in the world today. 

The truth is that we are to be motivated by the eternal. God is eternal and He offers eternity to us through Jesus Christ alone (John 3:16). His living words are the only words of eternal life (John 6:68; Hebrews 4:12). 

All other religions began with people asking, “How can we get to God?” That’s a very good question. And in the attempt to find an answer, many different people came up with their own moral systems. They said in essence, “Let’s do these things to get to God. And if we do enough of these good things, we’ll get to heaven.” (Or, in New Age thinking, ‘find peace within ourselves.’)

In Christianity, God looks down from heaven and wants to redeem mankind. So He left heaven and came to this earth in the form of a baby to bring salvation to the earth. His name was Jesus. He lived thirty-three years and never committed a sin. Then He died on a cross as atonement for our sins so we could have eternal life. No other man in the history of the world has ever done such a thing for humanity.

There is no substitute for Jesus’s love. Every other attempt falls devastatingly short because it will have zero ability to change our hearts, cure our sin, or impact our eternal destiny. Christ’s love is our true motivation, and it propels us toward greater feats than we ever thought possible. We will share His truth with the world so that as many people as possible can have a personal relationship with God and spend eternity with Him in heaven. 

That’s what being compelled to tell is all about! It’s a passion that will get us out of bed in the morning better than any alarm clock, deadline, or sales goal. It’ll help us endure pain, sorrow, and hardship in order to tell others about the best thing that has ever happened to us. 

Our main mission – and thus our only motivation – is to tell others about Christ. The risen Lord is the only cure for what’s ailing this world. He is the only One who can fill the empty space in our hearts. In a world filled with counterfeits and substitutions, people need to know:

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

You and I know firsthand what it’s like to have held the wrong motivations in life, because we were rescued from them on the day we were saved and born again. I don’t know your story personally, but my guess is that you have pursued false religions and New Age theologies, entertainment and celebrities, sex and ungodly relationships, health and wealth, work, or selfish gain before you gave your life to the Lord. You now have a new cause in Christ. You can tell people where you’ve been and how God delivered you. You can declare, as David did in Psalm 40:2:

“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”

Each day before you get out of bed in the morning – before your feet even touch the floor – pray and thank God for saving you and for all His blessings. Then say, “God, use me today. Show me how I can be a vessel for You and Your Kingdom today. You are my portion, my life, and my motivation.” If you start each day with this sincere prayer, it will serve as a powerful reminder of what drives and compels you – what motivates you – and I guarantee that God will open your eyes to new opportunities to be a light for Him and to make an impact for eternity. 

Motivation – Part One

What motivates you in your daily living? What drives you to get out of bed and go forward for another day and then another day and then another? Scores of people are motivated by fame, money, power, and pleasure. In fact, these motivations have become a $10 billion industry with folks eagerly handing over their time and money for self-help books, on-line courses, and motivational seminars. We want to know the secret to becoming a one-minute manager and a millionaire next door. We want to enjoy a shorter work week and the sculpt our bodies in ten days so we can master the art of attraction. We’ll research, pour over countless quotes from historical figures, and analyze the habits of successful people in order to distill the truths of what truly compels us.

Your motivation is the reason why you do what you do. It’s the thing, person, feeling, or goal that drives you to act. It’s whatever you’re living for.

To put it simply, we’re either driven by eternal motivations or by worldly motivations. 

One example of worldly motivation would be money or financial reward. Employees work hard for the promise of raises, incentives, and bonuses. Professional athletes work tirelessly for large contracts and signing bonuses. Sales teams rally together to achieve the best sales in their region and win their all-expenses paid trips to costal destinations. Money is a powerful motivator, albeit a temporary one. After all, as Proverbs 23:5 says, “Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.”

For some money means nothing, but success and accomplishment are everything. Parents will make big financial sacrifices in order to prepare their child to become the next president, CEO, or neurosurgeon. A college student will practically live in the library in order to make the dean’s list. Musicians may practice until their fingers are bloody for a standing ovation. Success feels good. Like the other motivations, it can be quite seductive – making us feel important, even ‘better than’ others. Success leads us to believe we have done something worthwhile wth our lives. But again, it is only a temporary motivator. 

Another popular worldly motivation is the desire to affect change and influence. Every year millions of people from around the world give to causes larger than themselves, wanting to make a difference. Church mission outreaches to indigenous people groups, marathons for medical research, disaster relief teams, the Peace Corps, the Red Cross, and many more organizations draw volunteers from all walks of life, all of them hoping to show that their lives mean something. 

The desire to make a positive change on this planet is a good thing, and there are many important causes to rally behind. But if that becomes our main focus, or we seek to obtain meaning and significance in our charitable work, we miss an incomparable opportunity to make a spiritual and an eternal difference in the lives of others. 

Temporary motivations distract mankind from the truth. Even as Christians we may fool ourselves into believing that making money or being liked is more important than preaching or sharing the Gospel of the Kingdom. Success, notoriety, and influence can call to us like sirens, pulling is into their unfulfilling whirlpools. Clever deception masquerades as authenticity, and temptation abounds.

We live in a day and age when sound doctrine is being replaced with self-serving ideas that are devoid of spiritual truth and life. Churches across the world are dying because they no longer accurately preach and teach God’s Word. It is quite possible that we have arrived at the dreadful hour Paul warned his disciple Timothy about. A time “when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” (2 Timothy 4:3)

Paul also predicted that there would be terrible times in the last days. In 2 Timothy 3:2-5, he wrote:

“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.”

Does any of this sound familiar to you? To love oneself is humanism. To love money is materialism. To love pleasure is hedonism. All three are major motivators in the world today. 

As believers and disciples of Jesus we must not allow these worldly motivators dictate how we live our lives. So what should be our motivation as Christians?

  • The answer next time…

Choosing a Mentor – Part Four

We are looking at how to be wise when looking for and choosing a mentor. So far we have examined…                    1> A good mentor is a worthy example                                                                                                                                         2> A good mentor is available                                                                                                                                                    3> A good mentor has proven experience                                                                                                                                 4> A good mentor possesses wisdom                                                                                                                                         5> A good mentor provides friendship and support

6> A good mentor is a coach who makes a difference in people’s lives

A major theme in my life is the desire to add value to people and make a difference in their lives. One of the ways this happens is in a mentoring relationship (see yesterday’s blog – “Christians Can’t Be Passive). A mentor can be a great encourager when the person they are mentoring is wanting to grow and develop in the Christian faith and in their calling. In other words, they are not passive but are willing to invest time, effort, and even money to move forward in their knowledge, understanding, and application of biblical principles. To mature as a believer and minister.

In our world today we often substitute other words for “mentor.” The most familiar and common is the word “coach.” A coach is someone who carries a valued person from where they are to where they want to be. The key is ‘they want to be.” Otherwise, as I mentioned yesterday it just ends up in frustration… like pushing a parked car with the brakes on uphill by yourself. Not interested. 

In an article called, “A Coach By Any Other Namer” Kevin Hall describes what it means to be a coach. He writes,

      • In other cultures and languages, coaches are known by many different names and titles.
      • In Japan, a “sensei” is one who has gone further down the path. In martial arts, it is the designation for master.
      • In Sanskrit, a “guru” is one with great knowledge and wisdom. “Gu” means darkness, and “ru” means light – a guru takes someone from darkness into the light.
      • In Tibet, a “lama” is one with spirituality and authority to teach. In Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama is the highest ranking leader.
      • In Italy, a “maestro” is a master teacher of music. It is short for “maestro de cappella,” meaning master of the chapel.
      • In France, a “tutor” is a private teacher. The term dates back to the fourteenth century and refers to one who served as a watchman.
      • In England, a “guide” is one who know and shows the way. It denotes the ability to see and point out the better course. 
      • In Greece,. A “mentor” is a wise and trusted advisor. In The Odyssey, Homer’s Mentor was a protective and supportive counsellor. 

All these words describe the same role: One who goes before and shows the way. No matter what word you use to describe them, coaches make a difference in others’  lives. They help them grow. They improve their potential. They increase their productivity. They are essential to helping people effect positive change. 

Andy Stanley in “The Next Generation Leader” states, “You will never maximize your potential in any area without coaching. It is impossible. You may be good. You may even be better than everyone else. But without outside input you will never be as good as you could be. We all do better when someone is watching and evaluating … Self-evaluation is helpful, but evaluation from someone else is essential.”

In my opinion, good mentors share five common characteristics. They…

        • Care for the people they coach
        • Observe their attitudes, behaviour, and performance
        • Align them with their strengths for peak performance
        • Communicate and give feedback about their performance
        • Help them to improve their lives and performance 

Please note that the first letter of each characteristic spells “coach

The process of growing with the help of a mentor usually follows this pattern: It begins with awareness. You realize that you need help and that following yourself is not a viable option for effective personal growth. When a person comes to that realization, one of two things can happen. The first is that the person’s pride swells up and he cannot bring himself to ask another person for advice. This is a common reaction. However, to keep from looking ignorant, they almost always ensure their own ignorance.

The other reaction to awareness is to humble yourself and say, “I need your help.” That decision not only leads to greater knowledge, but it also often develops maturity. It reinforces that people need one another [- not just when they are young and starting out, but their entire lives. 

Chuck Swindoll in “The Finishing Touch” states…

“Nobody is a whole chain. Each one is a link. But take away one link and the chain is broken.

Nobody is a whole team. Each one is a player. But take away one player and the game is forfeited.

Nobody is a whole orchestra. Each one is a musician. But take away one musician and the symphony is incomplete…

You guessed it. We need each other. You need someone and someone needs you. Isolated islands we’re not. 

To make this thing called life work, we gotta lean and support. And relate and respond. And give and take. And confess and forgive. And reach out and embrace. And release and rely…

Since none of us is a whole, independent, self-sufficient, super-capable, all-powerful hotshot, let’s quit acting like we are. Life’s lonely enough without our playing that silly role. 

The game’s over. Let’s link up.” 

Choosing a Mentor – Part Three

We are looking at how to be wise when looking for and choosing a mentor. So far we have examined…

1> A good mentor is a worthy example                                                                                                                                         2> A good mentor is available                                                                                                                                                    3> A good mentor has proven experience

4> A good mentor possesses wisdom

There’s a well-known story of an expert who was called by a company to look at their manufacturing system. It had broken and everything was at a standstill. When the expert arrived, he carried nothing but a little black bag.

Silently he walked around the equipment for a few minutes and then stopped. As he focused on one specific area of the equipment, he pulled a small hammer out of his bag and he tapped it gently. Suddenly everything began running again, and he quietly left.

The next day he send a bill that made the manager go ballistic. It was for $1000! Quickly the manager e-mailed the expert and wrote, “I will not pay this outrageous bill without it being itemized and explained.” Soon he received an invoice with the following words:

For the tapping on equipment with hammer – $1                                                                                                                  For knowing where to tap – $999

That is the value of wisdom. Mentors with wisdom often show us where to tap. Their understanding, experience, and knowledge help us to solve problems that we would have a hard time handling on our own.

One of my mentors (I read everything he ever wrote) when asked why highly successful people often sabotaged their lives and hurt their careers said, “Never confuse the giftedness of a person with the person. Their gifts allow them to do amazing things but the person may be flawed, which will eventually cause harm.” That bit of wisdom about a person’s character has helped me immeasurably. First, it helped me to better understand how to work with talented people and to help them develop. Second, it has been a caution to me personally. I know that having talent in a given area never exempts me from neglecting discipline or character issues. We’re all just one step away from stupid.

Wise people often use just a few words to help us learn and develop. They open our eyes to worlds we might not have otherwise seen without their help. They help us navigate difficult situations. They help us to see opportunities we would otherwise miss. They make us wiser than our years and experience. 

5> A good mentor provides friendship and support

The first question most followers ask of a mentor is, “Do you care for me?” The reason for this question is obvious. Who wants to be guided by a person who isn’t interested in them? Selfish people will assist you only insofar as it advances their own agenda. Good mentors provide friendship and support, unselfishly working to help you reach your potential. Their mind-set is well expressed by business coach and author James Vuocolo, who says, “Great things happen whenever we stop seeing ourselves as God’s gift to others, and begin seeing others as God’s gift to us.”

If the person who offers to mentor you doesn’t really support you and offer you friendship, then the relationship will always fall short of your expectations. Knowledge without support is sterile. Advice without friendship feels cold. Candour without care is harsh. However, when you are being helped by someone who cares for you it is emotionally satisfying. Growth comes from both the head and the heart. Only supportive people are willing to share both with you. 

More next time…

Choosing a Mentor – Part Two

We are looking at how to be wise when looking for and choosing a mentor. Last time we saw…

1> A good mentor is a worthy example

2> A good mentor is available

Andrew Carnegie stated, “As I grow older I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do.” As I grow older I too am doing just that. For us to be able to observe models (mentors) up close and see what they do, we must have some contact with them. That requires access and availability. For us to be actively mentored, we must have time with people to ask questions and learn from their answers all the time watching how they live and work.

When I mentor people, we usually meet once a month at the most. However, I am available by email and text at other times should they have a question or a concern between in-person meetings. Many of their mentoring questions are stimulated by my actions, not my words. That, of course, is a humbling thought. I know at times I fall short of the ideals and values that I teach and that we see in Scripture. Often the greatest leadership challenge I have is leading me! Teaching people what to do is easy. Showing them is much more difficult.

The greatest piece of advice that I ever received from my mentors is in the area of availability. When you are looking for a mentor, don’t shoot too high too soon. If you are considering going into politics for the first time, you don’t need the advice of the president or prime minister of your nation. If you are a high school student starting work at MacDonalds, you don’t need to relate directly to the manager or owner of your local hamburger joint. If you are fresh out of school and just starting your career, don’t expect to get extensive mentoring from the CEO of your organization.

Why shouldn’t I? You may be thinking. Why not start with the best? First of all, if you’re just starting out, nearly all your questions can be answered by someone two or three levels ahead of you – not ten. And their answers will be fresh because they will have recently dealt with the issues you are dealing with. Second, CEOs need to be spending their time answering questions of the people who are on the verge of leading at their level. I’m not saying you should never go to the top. I’m saying spend the majority of your time being mentored by people who are available, willing, and suited for the current stage of your career. And as you progress in your development, find new mentors for your new level of growth. 

3> A good mentor has proven experience

The farther you go in pursuit of your potential, the more new ground you will have to break. How do you figure out how to proceed? Benefit from others’ experiences. As the Chinese proverb says, “To know the road ahead, ask those coming back.”

Ever time I have entered into a new venture, I’ve sought the advice of people with proven experience. When I planted my first church; when I formed a network of churches; when I began to travel overseas on a regular basis; when I started ministering apostolically; when I left full-time pastoring; and now as I devote quality time daily to the writing and publishing of books. Hearing about their bad experiences makes me aware of potential problems I will be facing up the road. Hearing about their good experiences gives me an anticipation of potential opportunities up ahead of me.

I don’t know of a successful person who hasn’t learned from more experienced people. Sometimes they follow in their footsteps. Other times they use their advice to help them break new ground. Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani says, “All leaders are influenced by those they admire. Reading about them and studying their traits inevitably allows an inspiring leader to develop his own leadership traits.”

I personally read at least one biography or autobiography every month. Recently I read Michele Obama’s book “Becoming.” I am currently reading “Born With Teeth” by Kate Mulgrew who played Captain Kathryn Janeway on Star Trek Voyager. You can always learn by reading the life story and adventures of others. 

More next time…