Monday, February 9, 2009

What's Inside?

Gathering At the Well

What is the real underlying motive for all of the good stuff that you do?

This is the discussion question At the Well today. And it's one that will get your mind going on a Monday morning.

Laurie says, "Sometimes, there is a huge difference between our impure motives and the goodness of our actions."

I have dealt with this issue, especially since adding children to our family. Slowly, the overload of multiple ministries and activities began to take a toll on me as a mother and wife. And I had a hard decision to make.

What I was doing was good. It was "for the kingdom" and produced good fruit. But it was taking the place of the primary role God gave me at this time in my life.

My husband and I both grew up in families that were well rooted in the church. We both know many close family and friends who were involved in ministry. It shocked me as I began to open up about my struggle, how many women shared with me the regrets they had over time lost with their children that they would never have back.

Those conversations forced me to reconsider why I was involved in different areas of service or ministry. As Laurie said, what was my underlying motive? I was surprised to discover sometimes the motive was a feeling of obligation, a sense of duty or even peer pressure!

At that point, I began to take a different approach. I would first ask God if He wanted me to commit to something, and ask Him to bring me a sense of peace if He did. If I felt uncertainty, then I would wait to get involved until I felt sure God was leading me in that direction. On the flip side, I also asked God to give me a sense of release when it was time to be finished with something I was involved in. I didn't want to allow myself to quit just because it was uncomfortable or hard, but again because I knew God was leading me in a different direction. That certainly put a check on my motives.

All a man's ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the LORD.

Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.

Proverbs 16:2-3

And yet, I still miss the goal sometimes. This holiday season I really, really wanted to participate in our church's annual Christmas Tea by hosting a table. I had ladies in mind that I knew I would minister to at my table, and I knew they would be blessed. I had opportunity after opportunity to commit, but I didn't feel peaceful. At the last minute one Sunday, after another announcement asking for hostesses, I signed up. Partly because I so desired to do it and partly to please people who needed help.

Immediately, I regretted it. I knew I didn't have the go-ahead from the Lord. On the drive home from church, I told my husband I knew I had made a mistake. And sure enough, by the end of the tea, I was wishing I had been a little more obedient.

In hindsight, I could see why God wouldn't give me the release I wanted. He was trying to protect me. A couple days before the tea, my husband broke both of his wrists and we spent the week in ERs and doctor's offices and surgery centers. It was all I could do to get to the tea at all. And that night, my poor husband got really sick and needed me more than ever. But I was off ministering to everyone but him.

I learned another lesson. That God will work through us, even when we are imperfect.

It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.
Phillipians 1:15-18

God still allowed me to minister to the ladies at my table, but not without a price. My family suffered that night. And I suffered. I was overwhelmed and tired. And mostly disappointed in myself because I was the one responsible.

It was a good, hard lesson. I am even more careful now to listen to the promping of the Holy Spirit and check my motives. When God asks me to move on, I don't drag it out, I just obey trusting He has my best interests in mind.

I'll end with Laurie's prayer, "I desire to give Him all of my talents, all of my time and all of my treasures, for Him to use me as He sees fit. May my motives always be pure when it comes to serving Him and serving others!"


Elizabeth said...

Well put! I add a resounding "Amen!" When we obey, we are able to live a life free of obligations and a fulfilling life in God!

JesusRulzMe said...

Hello sweet sister,

It's always so good to "see" you here! I barely was able to post for the "well" last week and didn't really get around to visiting with anyone. So I'm so thankful that today, God has provided me to time to "chat" with you sweet sisters!

I LOVE this story you shared with us! I've been there and done that. One of the things I'm so grateful for is my illness, it's really slowed me down and kept me more prayerful!

And yes, God used you anyway to bless those ladies. I'm always so grateful that my lack of faithfulness does not nullify God's. He is an awesome God!

Bless you sweet sister,

P.S. How are the girls?

Ashley said...

Thank you so much for sharing!!!

This is something we are all trying to get better at. Thanks for sharing your methods!!!


LAURIE said...

Thank you for joining me in todays discussion of "motives". Sometimes we do things, especially in the ministry, just to do things. I loved what you had to say...

"What I was doing was good. It was "for the kingdom" and produced good fruit. But it was taking the place of the primary role God gave me at this time in my life."

May our focus remain on Him in all that we do!

-blessings, Laurie

Daniel's Mom said...

Very well put! I'm glad I have so many sisters to encourage me!

Lindsey said...

Wow, what a wonderful post! You're right, and I don't need to worry so much about what I'm doing or not doing and focus on God and what His plan for my life is. Why do we over-complicate things sometimes? I'm the queen of over-complication, lol. Thanks for this! :-)

Jenn said...

This is wonderful advice and something I need to do more often. Thanks for sharing!