Random Blog Clay Feet: October 24, 2008
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Friday, October 24, 2008

More on Motivation

I have written recently about the two very different ways of motivating the will. Now those thoughts are starting to circle around and apply themselves to my own heart in various ways that I find convicting and helpful.

I think about the typical way that I naturally try to get some people to view God differently, say for instance, people in my church that often view Him from a very external religious perspective. When I contemplate this and try to be as honest as possible about the intensity that rises up inside of me sometimes whenever I feel like confronting false opinions about what God is like, I realize that my spirit is conveying the very kind of negative motivation that I do not want to use myself.

As I was observing previously, the will can either be attracted and drawn toward something or someone positively like a magnet draws other metal or magnets to itself, or the will can be pushed and intimidated by fear, force and intimidation like a physical object can be moved in a certain direction by brute force. What I am now seeing is that my natural instinctive way of trying to motivate others is usually by the last means and not by the first. Of course I am not very successful in making much of a significant positive difference in their lives doing it this way and many people complain that I am not very friendly.

I certainly do not like this state of affairs that I find in my natural ways of doing things. The problem, of course, is that we tend to do whatever has been modeled to us and it is difficult for me to remember making very many decisions based on positive attractions rather than avoidance of punishment or bad consequences. But I am so grateful that God does not treat me the way others have treated me and that He continues to try to attract me to Himself instead of driving me harshly.

Somewhere I read that Jesus is like a good shepherd that never drives his sheep. A skilled and caring shepherd always leads his sheep and invites them to follow him instead of forcing them ahead of him. This speaks volumes about the character of the shepherd.

I confess that there are more and more times that I am finding myself with options now that I never experienced before. What I mean is that I am sometimes sensing more clearly alternative motivations that I never felt before my perception of God was challenged and transformed through better knowledge of His personality and character. It is becoming so much clearer to me the past few years that what we feel about God at our gut level absolutely determines how we are going to respond to His words and actions in our lives. And this revolves directly around this issue of how we perceive the ways that He tries to motivate us.

What gets me excited each time I realize it is that more and more I find myself sensing the option to make a positive choice, do the “right” thing, or refrain from something harmful because it will enhance and deepen my joy and intimacy with God. I am not talking about a left-brain theory that is imposed on me from a religious perspective but I am talking about an option that my heart senses at times that involves a sense of real attraction as an alternative to fear motivation.

It would be very easy to analyze this and quote a lot of scripture verses to support it and thus turn it into another left-brain doctrine, and that would certainly support the truth of what I am sensing. But it would also possibly rob my heart of the opportunity to more deeply explore what is really going on in this area of my life that I really want to experience much more. I sense that my heart needs far more training in positive attraction motivation than I presently have, and it does not respond very easily to just left-brain lectures about why it should do that. What I really need is to experience it first-hand and to see it in action both in my own life and in others.

Often when I attempt to think of how to go about relating to others from this new way of thinking rather than my normal, ingrained way of fear-motivation I find myself coming up with a blank. I honestly cannot visualize what that might look like most of the time because it is so unfamiliar to me. But I also know that this is the direction I want to move in my own life and in the way that I treat other people.

But I sense that this can only happen in my own life to the extent that my picture of God is transformed and I chuck the lies about Him that have poisoned my thinking and assumptions for all of my life. My mind operates on the principle of being transformed into whatever it dwells on just as everyone else's mind does. I want to be transformed into a person who can relay the attractions of heaven to other's rather than dwelling on terrible consequences while trying to force others to change their opinions. Instead, I want to become much more a channel of attraction for God and much less an agent of fear.

Yes, I am aware that there are times when fear is the only option left for God to get people's attention. Those, who like me have been raised with minds trained to only respond to fear to motivate them often have to initially be jolted out of their deep ruts by warnings of the consequences of the choices they are making. I realize that God often has to use this method to get our attention, but I also am learning that this is not the goal of our loving Father for our relationship with Him. I believe that He wants to move as quickly as possible to a relationship based totally on attraction and to discontinue having to warn us of dangers. And this is largely due to the terrible distortions about Him that are created when we think that He is like the effects that we feel in our heart while experiencing the internal results of fear.