I’ve been feeling moved to do better in a couple of areas recently. I was pondering this tonight, and questioned what my motivation is. Am I doing this to improve myself, to make me a better person? Am I doing this because I don’t want the embarrassment of people seeing me as less than perfect? Or am I doing this because it’s what God wants me to do, and in response to his love?
I think the first two reasons perhaps aren’t bad in assisting to work towards change, but they are the wrong motives. If I’m just trying to improve myself, it is self focused, and not focused on God. If I succeed (or appear to have succeeded for a time), I can take pride in myself and look down on others for not doing better themselves. But I believe I will ultimately fail; I don’t have the power within me for real, complete and lasting transformation. If I’m only doing it to avoid embarrassment, it’s like I’m creating a false reality, and portraying a false image of myself. This is something I struggle with, because by personality I don’t like much attention, much less negative attention. So how do I be open and honest about my shortcomings, without focusing on them in an unhealthy way?
I think the correct motivation is in response to my relationship with God. To do it both because he says to (and I trust in his direction), and in response to his love for me. In other words, if I am really living in him, and really know, understand and experience how he loves me, that will be significant motivation to change myself. In fact, I won’t be doing it on my own, in my own strength, but I will be doing in his strength.
In reality, I’ve learned that motives are rarely if ever simply one thing or another—they are usually mixed. However I hope to make the primary motivation the correct motivation, and consequently to tap into the right power: God’s power which is the only power strong enough to overcome my weakness.