What’s Your Motivation?

Decisions, decisions.  It seems like I have had to make a lot of big ones lately.  And, I have some really big ones looming over me like a huge rain cloud that might burst or might blow over.

We all make decisions daily – maybe hourly.  What to wear?  What to have for dinner?  (Still hate that one!)  Some are less frequent but weightier:  What activities are right for our kids?  What church should we attend?  Where should we live?

We make decisions alone.  We make them with our spouse, friend, or boss.  We make them with a group.  Regardless, decisions must be made. Duh:)

But, lately, I have not been as worried or concerned about the decision-making as I have been about my motivation for the choice on which I settle.

Last night a very good friend questioned my motives.  Not in an accusatory way, but in a loving way.  Her words (loosely) were “I say this out of love and not judgment, but you/we need to be careful how much of our hearts truly want to fix the problem and how much of our hearts just want to be right.  You/we need to keep our hearts purely striving and yearning for God’s will.”


Usually if it stings, then there’s some truth in it.  As I struggle/have struggled with the decision to which she’s referring, she has been the one that’s heard it…all the time.  I try to limit the bulk of my complaining, ranting, sadness, etc. to her ears. (I know, poor gal:)

Who better to point out my blind spot?  Who better to question my motives than the one who hears my heart and sees the fault?

This morning, I turn on the next podcast in a series I’ve been listening to.  Here’s what I heard:  “Jesus and the father are very interested in the motives that drive our actions, and you can do the right thing with the wrong motive and God call it sin. “

Insert big sigh/big conviction here.

The Scripture referenced in this podcast?  Philippians 2:3-7

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

For the rest of this morning’s walk, I prayed:  Lord, reveal my motive in this decision and in all the big ones coming.  Is this about me?  About others?   Am I considering others more significant then me?  Who’s is most important here – me?  Steve?  Hannah and Owen?  My family?  My friends?  My church?  Do I just want to be right?  Why?

When I listed both pending decisions and a few past decisions and then filtered those through this passage in Philippians, the answers seemed almost obvious.

The decision/thoughts that my friend questioned?  My motive is 90/10.  I am 90% wanting to see God glorified, but there’s 10% of me that simply wants to win – to be right.  I am so thankful that (although a bit painful), I have a friend who said, “That 10% is a problem.”  She’s right because (at some point) that 10% may start to seep into my soul.

What decisions have you made recently that  – in hindsight – were selfish?  What decisions are you about to make that could use the Philippians filter – looking not just to your own interests but to the interests of others?

This is hard.  Sometimes I just want what I want.  Sometimes I just want to be right.  Sometimes I don’t want the hard way; I want the easy way.  But, my life is not my own; it’s His.


Note:  Just as I was about to post, I saw this somewhat related tweet by Sarah Cunningham:  It’s not selfish to pursue greatness. It’s selfish to focus only on what is great for us & ignore what is great for others. (So true:)


Philippians 2

Gospel-Centered Service from the Village – Matt Chandler

Sarah Cunningham’s blog


  1. Wow.

  2. You’ve been blessed with a wonderful friend!

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