Mirrors Help with Motives
Maybe you’ve had
the experience of cruising along in life or work or ministry, thinking you’re
doing fine, and then someone drops this little bomb into your productivity
parade: “Why?” As in, “Why did you do that, Dave?” Or “Why did you say that,
Dave?” Or, more to the point, “What was motivating you, Dave?”
Give me a “what”
question any day. I don’t mind so much when people question what I do. Hey,
I’m not perfect, everybody makes mistakes. It’s the “why” inquiries that
get under my skin.
In God’s view, the
result isn’t the only thing that matters. Motives matter—a lot. So, let me ask
you: Is there anyone in your life who’s free to ask you the “why” questions?
And what happens when someone questions your motives for the “good” things
If we’re doing
something good, we maintain the idea that our motives are somehow above
question. But there may be no better place to hide selfish motivations than in
service to others, even in the church. Service is certainly self-giving, but it
can also be tailor-made for cloaking selfish ambition.
In fact, I think
a lot of divisions in churches happen because folks aren’t willing to have
their motives questioned. They’ll argue fine points of theology, ecclesiology,
missiology, pneumatology—all kinds of “ologies”—but they never put on the
table a very simple question: “Why does this matter to me so much?”
This also comes into play in what we say. Our
world loves conversation. We love to talk about ideas, art, culture,
life—bring it on!
cool. I love it myself. But sometimes we want to converse about ideas and life
as if our talk is disconnected from our heart. We unsuspectingly do what
Scripture never permits—we detach our motives from our mouth, forgetting that
“out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34).
end up in a dangerous place. When our inner world isn’t open to scrutiny, our
outer world eventually collapses.
If you ever find
yourself insisting your motives are unpolluted—Maybe what I said wasn’t
right, but my motives were pure—get out of the shadows and back to your
Bible. God’s love is so vast that He takes great interest in every aspect of
the reasons behind everything we do. One of the ways He shows this remarkable
love is by giving us mirrors for our motives.
Let me tell you about something I’ve done that’s difficult for me. I’ve cracked open the window of evaluation to the level of motives. Yep, I’m talking speech, action, the whole shebang. It was simple but a little hairy to tell my wife, kids, and friends that I want this degree of help. Why do I want it? Because motives matter. My only link to biblical reality is to keep “why” in the picture.
*This article is based on Dave's book, Rescuing Ambition.