Motives are a big deal. It is a major consideration in criminal investigations. Sure, evidence such as fingerprints and DNA matter. But a lot of outcomes hinge on the motive. A husband is found dead and the wife is a suspect. Oh, he was having an affair and she is the beneficiary of the fat life insurance policy. She better have a good alibi AND a good attorney. That kind of motive is hard to argue.
Our own motives could be more of a mystery than the above theoretical crime. What causes us to blunder so badly? Why did I snarl that snarky remark? Who pushed the button that set off the childish tantrum? There’s an underlying reason, and those in a growth trajectory evaluate this on the regular. Some (myself included) work with a Life Coach or a counselor to help unearth our truths to which we are often blind.
What motivates me to do the right thing? Or maybe it’s easier to identify what stops me from doing the not-so-right thing? What even IS the right thing? Who decides? Our parents – the police – the government – our church?
One thing that motivates me to do the right thing is integrity and self respect. This wasn’t always the case, and I still blow it now and then. But mainly, I think about how much I am loved, by God, others and even finally myself. I want to live a life that is worthy of this love. These warm fuzzies steer me in the wisest direction possible, help me do my best, and miraculously keep me out of trouble.
Guilt is also a motivator to do right, but it feels much heavier. I SHOULD do this or that. Or someone will be angry with me if I skip out – so I guess I have to show up. Maybe I won’t be loved if I don’t bring home the grades that are expected.
So which is better? Motivation that springs from guilt – or from love?
Does it even matter if the end result is the same?
I think it does.
Living well because I am loved is so much more positive. It’s actually sustainable. It’s liberating! I want to take care of myself and those around me because of love, not guilt or obligation. Chores become serving opportunities. Have-to’s become want-to’s.
It’s almost Easter, and if you didn’t know this about me, I work for my church. Anyone who has been around church circles can attest to the busyness of this season. Easter Sunday is often referred to as the Christian Super Bowl. We joke around that we will see all of our “Chreasters”. This is an affectionate term for the people who only attend on Christmas and Easter. Don’t you feel like an insider now?
I’m guessing that those surfacing for major events do so out of obligation and/or guilt. You are supposed to come to church at these key times. The pressure is definitely on for holidays. I mean, if you can’t show up for Christmas and Easter, well, that’s pretty bad and you risk losing your invitation to the Sacred Family Brunch.
Maybe Grandma won’t be happy with you, or maybe you think God won’t be happy with you. So you clean yourself up, buy a new dress, polish your smile and check “church” off the list. Perhaps there will be a whiff of feigned optimism to attend on a normal weekend, you know, when it’s not so damned crowded.
I think about our Creasters the other fifty weeks of the year when they are missing out on our amazing community. (I am not the attendance police – there is no scorecard and I’m not here to judge anyway.) It makes me a little bit sad when they opt out more often than they opt in. Especially when I know how much joy and hope is found in our church gathering. (I realize not everyone has this kind of community, and if you do not, I’m so sorry, and I sincerely hope you find a really good one.)
No matter how often or why, my prayer is this: that people would come for love. From love. Because of love. Not guilt, not obligation, but love!
God loves us so much. Jesus chose to lay down his life for his friends – that’s us! And others will know us because of our love for one other. When love is the motivation, we all win.
The focus this Easter weekend is not really the cross, but the empty tomb. Love wins! What better reason to celebrate?!
Thanks for reading, until next time!
PS. Regardless of how you spend your Easter Sunday this year, I hope you know that you are loved, no matter what. If you go to a church, I hope it’s an amazing service and you get a good seat. If you’re skipping the crowds and have an hour to kill, you can always live stream with us here.Times are Sunday 9am, 10:30am and 12noon. 🙂