Summary: Where do we get the motivation to keep doing what the Lord wants us to do? We affirm that we are called by a God of power, who is able to equip us; He will give us victory eventually even though it may come slowly (Deacon Ordination Sunday).
This evening two very good football teams will face each other under the dome. The outcome will hinge not only on physical condition and coaching strategy and just plain luck; it will hinge also on motivation. Who really, really wants to win? Who is hungry to win?
One of the great personal issues we face is motivation. It’s one thing to know what we ought to do; it’s another thing to gather the energy to do it. It’s one thing to be required by your employer to get up and go to work; it’s another thing entirely to want to do the job when you get there. It’s one thing to be handed a homework assignment by your teacher; it’s another question entirely about how you turn off the TV and hang up the telephone and buckle down to do it.
Someone asked my father-in-law once how he found the time and energy to write some fourteen books. His answer was that he did it by carefully applying the seat of his pants to his desk chair. He just sat down and did it! Well, that may have worked for him, but a whole lot of us need more motivation. We may know what we ought to do, and we may even think we want to do it, but there are distractions, there are obstacles. There is a motivation problem.
Where do you get motivation? What drives you to do?
Some of us are duty-driven. We do what we ought to do just because we ought to do it. The week before last the church’s Book of Reports took over my life. I wrote, I edited, I pushed, and that book just absolutely took over my life. I can tell you that there was only one motivation: that it had to be done. Duty-driven.
Other folks are impulse-driven. They do only what they feel like doing at the moment, and it is just about impossible to get them to do something on time, because they are captured by the whims of the moment.
And still others are reward-driven; they see only carrots on a stick. They get moving only when there is a reward to be had.
But I will suggest to you that none of these things really works in the long haul. Successful people are motivated beyond all of these. If you are driven by duty, but there is no one to supervise you and there are no deadlines to meet, well, then, there is no more motivation. And if you are motivated by impulse, and all you can do is to follow the whim of the moment, the day comes when nothing really grabs you, nothing really takes hold of you, and you find yourself floundering.
And if you are driven and motivated only by reward, I’ve found out that that doesn’t last long either. I’ve supervised a number of people over the years. I’ve found out that those who always seem to want more money are also those you can never quite get moving, yet one of the best workers l ever had was a person who could never even remember what his salary was! Reward is not a good enough motivation, after a while.
So what does it take?
In the eighth century before Christ the young man Isaiah found himself in the Temple one day, confronting his own sense of direction. And in the experience which Isaiah had, he got motivated. Truly, finally, powerfully motivated ... and for no easy task either. I’d like to invite you to learn with me from our friend Isaiah how we can find motivation enough to make our lives work.
First, Isaiah saw that in certain times we catch a glimpse of the great purposes of God, and this God reaches out and claims us. In certain times and on certain occasions we can gain the motivation to be somebody special because we sense a great God who wants to make us partners in something He is doing. A lofty Lord lays claim to us.
Isaiah 1:1, 3
The year that King Uzziah died was a critical year for the nation of Judah. It meant change, it meant transition. And in the mind of every perceptive Judean, it surely must have meant that there was the potential for crisis. King Uzziah had reigned for more than forty years. In many ways, he was a godly man. His reign had gone well. There had been no military disasters, the economy was in good shape, this had been a good time.
But now King Uzziah was dead, and in his place there was to come his son Jotham -- an unknown quantity at best and a weak wastrel at worst. Every perceptive soul in Judah knew that the next years could be tough ones. But Isaiah also felt that the time had come for him to be involved in doing something. Notice that it was in a time of crisis, a time of transition, when Isaiah first began to build some motivation, some sense of direction about his life.