At last week's Sunday Quest Gathering, we talked about motivation. What are we motivated by? What fuels us? Is it love or is it fear?
This morning, my friend and fellow Quester, Doug, shared a blog he'd read by Seth Godin that confirmed some of what we discussed (read the whole blog HERE - and subscribe; Godin is terrific and interesting).
Godin suggested that, without motivation, we tend toward apathy, and he listed the following narratives as effective motivators:
- Avoidance of shame (do this work or you'll be seen as a fraud/loser/outcast)
- Becoming a better version of yourself
- Big dreams (because you can see it/feel it/taste it)
- Catastrophe (or the world as we know it will end)
- Competition (someone is gaining on you)
- Compliance (the boss/contract says I have to, and even better, there's a deadline)
- Connection (because others will join in)
- Creative itch (the voice inside of you wants to be expressed)
- Dissatisfaction (because it's not good enough as it is)
- Engineer (because there's a problem to be solved)
- Fame (imagining life is better on the other side)
- Generosity (because it's a chance to contribute)
- It's a living (pay the writer)
- Peer pressure (the reunion is coming up)
- Possibility (because we can, and it'll be neat to see how it works in the world)
- Professionalism (because it's what we do)
- Revenge (you'll show the naysayers)
- Selection (to get in, win the prize, be chosen)
- Unhappiness (because the only glimmer of happiness comes from the next win, after all, we're not good enough as is)
Some of these are positive, some negative. But Doug thought it was interesting that, while Godin never mentions "fear" specifically, fear is part of what fuels nearly all of these narratives.
I added that they all seem to be self-centric. Even the ones that SEEM others-centric, like "generosity," still feel self-centric (i.e., it's a chance to contribute, but why?). And this isn't good or bad; it just is. Godin is merely relaying the truth of things - most people are motivated by self-interest and fear.
Be we need to push against that. Hopefully, that's part of what makes us different - Questers specifically and Christians generally. Following Jesus rearranges our priorities and our motivations.
Jesus says that people will know we follow him because of the extravagant way we love (John 13:35). And the kind of love he was talking about - agape or unconditional love - has very little to do with self-interest or fear, and everything to do with subjugating our own needs in favor of the needs of others (Phil 2:3).
This narrative has the power to change you and change the people around you, because, like we said Sunday, it's not natural - it's not pragmatic or intuitive - but it is infectious and powerful because it springs from the knowledge that we no longer need to live in fear - this kind of love that Jesus talks about dispels fear by rendering it powerless (1 John 4:18).
It's a better narrative, and it goes something like this:
- Jesus follower (love because he first loved us)
Unlike the narratives listed above, this narrative can do much more than keep you motivated. This narrative can change the world.
How's that for good news?