What's Your Motivation?

October 7th, 2011

In preparing for their roles over the years actors have famously asked, "What's my motivation?" The purpose of this question is to help them understand why their character would say or do certain things. It's an important question because without understanding the reason behind their character's actions and words, it would be difficult to deliver a believable or consistent performance.

As people of faith, perhaps we, too, should be asking ourselves, "What's my motivation?"

I say this because many of us often seem to be playing different characters in this life, even on the same day. We say one thing and do another. We trumpet our ideals one morning and then muffle those same beliefs that evening. We act as if we're one kind of person in private, only to come across as a completely different person in public. So, what's the deal? Do most of us suffer from split-personality disorder, or is something else going on? Perhaps the problem is an inability to understand our motivation.

The person who knows what motivates them lives a different kind of life. In general, they are more consistent in their thoughts, words and deeds. They are more focused in how they use their time, energy and resources. The something or someone that motivates them allows them to stand out from the crowd because, ultimately, their character is believed to be real (as opposed to hypocritical, ironically also an acting term).

Would you say that your values and beliefs are consistent with your actions, or do you find them at odds depending upon your audience? This is an important question for Christians and other people of faith because we will always be held to a higher standard (after all, you can’t risk being called a hypocrite if you’re not willing to stand up for a belief). As a pastor trying to start a new church, I’ve found that my ideals for the new community change more than I’d like them to when I lose sight of who I’m trying to impress. At times, I’ve forgotten that I have an audience of One that motivates me, and so there’s no need to continually change masks or outfits or character based on who I find in front of me at that moment.

What’s your motivation? As you go through your day, what or who motivates you to live out your ideals and values? Is your “performance” consistent? Or does your character change based on your audience? If so, how can you and I become more aware of the changes we make in character and why we make them?

May our most important and only role, life, we dedicated to the One who blessed us with it.

Jay Cooper is the pastor of Jacob's Well, a new United Methodist Church plant in Chandler, AZ. He blogs at Souls Gone Wild.

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