I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.
“The biggest source of motivation is your own thoughts, so think big and motivate yourself to win.” I do not know who to give credit to for that quote about motivation, but whoever it is - he (she) nailed it. Regardless of who may try to motivate us to do various things in our lives, the ultimate source of our drive comes from within. If someone else wants something for me more than I want it for myself, there is a very good chance the end result will not be a goal met. We all have different sources of motivation. Sometimes a desire to accomplish something that others believe we are not capable of is the intrinsic push that keeps us striving for the end result we seek. In this situation, we are setting out to prove someone wrong. While that may not be the most healthy motivation, it is powerful. On the other end of the spectrum, our driving force to reach a goal may be our determination to do something special for someone who means a great deal to us. There is a lot of love that comes with this kind of motivation - and there is tremendous strength in love. Similarly, our motivation may be the realization that each day is a gift and we want to begin each day with a renewed focus to be the best we can be at whatever it is we strive to do. What is your motivation?
When met with a challenge, the fear of failure may be our greatest motivator. Having someone tell us we cannot do something can lead to a fear of them being right. But, sometimes it is that fear that provides us with just the right motivation to prove them wrong. Maybe it is not a matter of someone telling us we will not be successful, but it is our belief that they do not truly think we are capable. I knew a young man who told some of his peers that he was going to do something that they believed was the farthest thing from a realistic goal. He had nearly a year to prepare for the opportunity. He was convinced his goal would become reality and his daily effort reflected that confidence. He did things others were not willing to do because he was determined to seize his opportunity when it came. There were certainly times over the course of that year where the young man struggled. That is what happens when we let our guard down and doubt creeps in. We all have those times when we allow ourselves to listen to the critics. When that starts to happen, we can find the strength to get back on track by reading Paul’s letter to the Phillippians - specifically in Phillippians 4:13 when he writes “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” When we become fearful of failure, God is our friend who never doubts us. We can always find the strength we need in Him. He will lead us through the fear and help us get back on the path toward our goal.
We all want to do things that make our loved ones proud of us. When we are able to accomplish things that bring smiles to the faces of those we love the most, our hard work is rewarded with the hugs and high fives that come with our success. These accomplishments do not have to be life-changing to be special to us. Recently, our family decided we were all going to get to work getting in better shape. For me, the running that the other two in our house were beginning does not come easy for my aching knees and back. But, I am determined to stick to the pact that we made, so I am going to do everything I can to reach the same goal we agreed to … albeit with a slightly different path to the end result. What is my motivation? Well, I will feel better because of the physical work I am putting in, but it is more than that. I am determined to do what I told my wife and son I was going to do. They are putting in the hard work, I want them to know that I am as well - because I said I would. Outside of one day hearing my heavenly Father say to me, “well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23), there is no better feeling than having my loved ones know that I have done what I promised them I would do.
Promises to our loved ones and the fear of failure are indeed great motivators. Both scenarios push us to press on when quitting would be easier. However, when we are at a point in our lives where our motivation is refreshed with the dawn of each new day, our focus will never be clearer. Whether we are setting out to lose a few pounds, earn the promotion we have been seeking at work, or to be a better servant of God, the clarity of purpose that comes when we approach the new day with a thankful heart gives us a strength that is unmatched. Each day that we are given in this life with our loved ones is a gift. It is an opportunity to grow, to be better, and to show those around us how much they mean to us. In Colossians 3:23, we are reminded that our greatest motivation comes from our Father in heaven - “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” God wants our absolute best effort in all that we do. We owe it to Him to give exactly that - our very best. When we begin each day with the realization that God loved us so much that He gave His son so that we might live with a hope of an eternal heavenly home with Him, our motivation is clear. Despite the struggles we face and the frustration we feel from those who doubt us, we should always find the strength we need in reminding ourselves, “if God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
It has been thirty-one years since that young man proved those who doubted him wrong. He did what he said he was going to do. He did earn the starting quarterback role as only a sophomore in high school. I was proud of what I had worked so hard to accomplish. That young man was me. What others thought about my determined efforts were of little consequence to me. I was thinking big and I was motivated to succeed.
Looking back, I can still remember the determination I had each and every day to do everything I could possibly do to make myself a better football player. And, I still get a smile on my face knowing that those who doubted me were silenced when I celebrated on the field with my teammates after we defeated our rivals on that first Friday night. I also know that my family was proud of me for accomplishing something that I worked so hard for. All these years later, I remember those feelings. But, I have grown since then … thank goodness. I see now that as much as I wanted to earn that spot on that football team, that was just one of the many things in life that God has used to teach me the importance of setting goals and working each day to reach them. For each of us, our greatest goal is clear … to spend eternity in heaven in the presence of God. There is nothing bigger and we cannot afford to fail. What is our motivation? God gave us today, let us use this day to bring glory to Him because His love for us is beyond measure. Prayer Dear Lord, thank you for each new day you give us to live for You. Help us each day to live a life that glorifies you and brings joy to our loved ones. Thank you for the strength You give us to overcome the struggles we face in life. Forgive us when we fall short and help us to remember the hope we have through Christ. In His name, Amen.