All one’s ways are pure in one’s own eyes, but the measurer of motives is the Lord. Proverbs 16:2
When I started back to work in November, I told my kids they’d have to step it up and do more for the family. Working as a team was the only way we were going to get through.
But kids are kids, and it’s hard for them to remain mindful of anything when all they want to do is goof off. My response was to create a reminder list for each one of them that I put at their homework stations. Every day, they’re supposed to do their assigned chores right when they get in from school.
I’m sure you know where this is going…
For the first few weeks, things were VERY rocky. Just like I had resisted going back to work for years, my kids resisted having to step up. The result was me screaming and yelling, and punishing them by taking away their screen time. Both approaches had a big impact, and things smoothed out.
Recently, however, one of my kids has been slacking. As I pull into the garage each day, I can hear him running around upstairs trying to complete the chore he should have done an hour before. It got me wondering: Why does one child try to buck the system, while the other two proudly conform?
I think it goes beyond their personality types. I finally figured out it’s their motivation. The two who are doing what they should want to help; it makes them feel good to do their part and make me happy. The other one’s motivation is only about fear of punishment.
When our motivation is based strictly on fear of punishment, it’s human nature to push the boundary. There’s a secret thrill we get when we step over that line and don’t get caught.
Each time we’re successful, we’re inspired to step over even further. Soon, we’re thinking only of ourselves, making whatever sneaky choice is necessary to support our quest to get away with what we shouldn’t.
On the other hand, when our motivation is for the good of others, we’re inspired to make right choices, do the hard work, and find even more ways to help. Despite the effort it takes to go this route, we end up more energized and fulfilled, knowing deep in our hearts that we’eve made a difference, no matter how small.
The same holds true for our relationship with God. If we’re only going to church and praying because we fear punishment, we push the boundaries on both. The slow progression of skipping one or the other turns into the slippery slope of justifying why we don’t need to do either.
But when we seek God in church and prayer with an intention that is pure, we’re filled to the brim with His love and grace. Both have us inspired to find even more ways to connect with Him throughout the day.
Motivation is everything. If we set out to cut corners, we’re always looking for ways to do less. It’s only when we set out to move beyond ourselves and do the right thing, that we’re filled with God’s love, and can’t help but spread it.
Questions for Reflection:
*What is my kids’ motivation with their chores and other responsibilities?
* What is my motivation in my relationship with God?