What Motivates You?

By Jacob Toman

The best meal I ever ate was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a cold glass of water. It wasn’t the best because of the cuisine itself. It was the best because of how hard I had to work to get to that lunch break. More on that later...

Peanut butter and jelly sandwich.jpg

What motivates you?

There are all sorts of wonderful pleasures, pursuits, and passions that are offered in our lives. Some enjoy the bright, warm sunshine, and prefer to live in warmer climates (looking at you friends in California/Florida). Some enjoy the magisterial beauty of winter winds and snow (looking at you friends in Canada/Alaska/Russia). Some enjoy spending time with friends and family gathering together to share food and discussion. Some enjoy having a specific goal, game, or purpose for gathering.

What motivates you?

Do you have a personal goal, an unfulfilled promise, an earnest desire that you seek to achieve? Today you woke up for another day, living out a life that God has put before you. You have time and other resources to manage to achieve your purposes for today. Some of us have more money, more free time, more responsibilities, more opportunities, more motivations. Some of us have less money, less free time, fewer responsibilities, fewer opportunities, fewer motivations. One thing we all have in common, regardless of our resources available, is the day ahead of us.

I was recently chatting with Ken[1], a veteran of world war two fighting in the European theatre. We were sharing stories of our youth and Ken couldn’t help but share about the celebrations that were had when victory was declared over the Nazis in May of 1945. Ken described the scenes when he and his unit went into a British town. He said they were received like they had “won the world series”. Anyone and everyone from the town was in the streets celebrating. Ken said there were tears shed, and smiles shared. For years his goal had to been to win the war. Now what would drive him? Going home to celebrate!

Having a clear motivation drives our methods, our purposes, and our daily decisions as members of humanity. It allows for a feeling that author Jane Mcgonigal refers to as “fiero”: a sense of extreme pride, accomplishment, and unabashed joy that we get when we overcome obstacles. It allows for a feeling that author Jane Mcgonigal refers to as “fiero”: a sense of extreme pride, accomplishment, and unabashed joy that we get when we overcome obstacles[2]. A lack of clear motivation can lead to a life lived without experienced purpose. Sure, things may get done as one drifts through life, committing oneself for a time to one thing or another. Yet, despite checklists being accomplished and tasks completed, there isn’t a sense of achievement. Life goes on without a moment of fiero.

A celebration like what Ken experienced in May of 1945 was worthy of excitement, joy, and fiero precisely because of the effort that went into accomplishing the motivating task. Have you ever witnessed an adult playing keep away from a child? Perhaps the object being kept away is a ball or toy. The child endeavors with all their endless fountains of energy, yet the adult is simply bigger, faster, and more able to keep the ball than the child. Yet the adult may not take much pleasure in accomplishing this task. The challenge of the task is simply too low for the adult, and simply too high for the child.

For some daily life may be more like what the adult experiences playing keep away. Life is too easy, goals are quickly accomplished, there isn’t much investment or challenge to daily living. A complaint from this life is one of boredom, and the person caught here can often be dragged to the depths of depression. These seemingly unmotivated, unambitious people, come from every race, class, and religious background. Is this you? Is your daily life boring?

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For others daily life may be more like what the child experiences when playing keep away. Life is too hard, goals are unaccomplished, there is a steep investment and challenge to daily living. A complaint from this life is rooted in circumstances, and the person caught here can often be pulled into a pit of despair. These seemingly overwhelmed, disorganized people, come from every race, class, and religious background. Is this you? Is your daily life overwhelming?

What motivates you?

Today is an opportunity. The time, resources, and goals set before you are a chance at experiencing great joy, genuine purpose, and a reality that is worthy celebrating. So, what are your motivations today? What are you pursuing? What is it that must be accomplished today?

Jesus had something to say about motivations, and it applies to both groups of people: those who find life too easy, and those who find life too challenging.

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it[3].

What motivates you? Does the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus have an impact on your daily life today?

Jesus had the love of his people as the core of his motivation. He took his commitment to his goals throughout his life, and carried that same commitment through a tortured death. To those who are bored, depressed, or unmotivated, Jesus reveals himself as the great example of finding motivation in serving others. Note the promise of Jesus is to find life. For those who dread the coming days ahead or wonder what purpose the day now holds, Jesus offers a life filled with motivation in every task that is offered in worship. From daily drudgery, to filing paperwork, Jesus offers purpose.

To those who are overwhelmed and engulfed in the circumstances of life, Jesus reveals himself as the one who bore every overwhelming circumstance because of the love he had for his people. For those who see the oncoming tasks as an immoveable, unassailable fortress, take encouragement that the gates of hell themselves cannot resist the victory of Christ. From daily trial, to humbling reminders that we’re not perfect, Jesus offers a victory that accomplishes eternal fiero for those who have faith in him.

The best meal I ever ate was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a cold glass of water. In the 12 hours prior to that meal I had engaged in a fast and a vow of silence. I had engaged in a difficult physical task of digging out a trench, hiking 5 miles, and building and maintaining a fire in the rain. The meal was delicious because of the motivation I had to eat it. The bread was a perfect soft loaf. The peanut butter was thick and creamy. The jelly provided a sweet grape taste as I bit into this delectable sandwich.


If you have faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus at the core of your motivation today, all that you accomplish for his glory will be a delectable fiero.

 

[1] Ken is a gamer at the retirement community Gospel & Gaming staff volunteer at. He enjoys baseball, has a passion for each day, and is a beloved member of the community.

[2] Jane Mcgonigal’s description of this feeling, based on the Italian word “Fiero”. “Fiero is what we feel after we triumph over adversity. You know it when you feel it – and when you see it. That’s because we almost all express fiero in exactly the same way: we throw our arms over our head and yell.” - Reality is Broken.  http://www.whatgamesare.com/fiero.html

[3] Matthew 16:24-25 ESV: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+16&version=ESV