Time for installment four of our What Drives Us series looking at why we do, think and feel the way we do. The core idea is this: we either make our decisions based on God’s promises in the Gospel, or on something else.
Perhaps ‘nothing’ drives me? And perhaps the greatest danger facing my generation and those who will follow us is not the threat of terrorism, nuclear proliferation, a down economy, or a tsunami. No, we are being washed away by wave after wave of triviality. We’re a generation deeply committed to being entertained, and thus prone to taking very little seriously. Perhaps our priorities may be a bit askew? (I am asking myself this question too.)
Does nothing drive you?
Let’s look at how this may play out in life.
Situation … response:
- When all is well in my life … I don’t think much about God; I’m doing okay on my own.
- When trials enter my life … I ask “why?” and blame others, because I feel like a victim.
- When I am criticized, I … act cool and pretend it doesn’t bother me.
- My relationship with God … good or bad, depending on the circumstances around me.
- Motivation: Whatever feels good at the moment.
- When I sin … I think it only affects me and don’t feel bad unless consequences impact daily life.
- I trust … in not very much or many people. (I trust in myself.)
- My greatest strengths/ weaknesses are … my strength is how easy-going I am; my weakness is that I won’t rise to meet challenges.
- My identity is found in … what I think of myself, which is probably different than how others perceive me. (I pretend ‘I don’t care what others think or say about me.’)
What is the antidote?
The maturity process brought to us through accumulating responsibilies in the normal course of life. Paul talks about the transition to manhood specifically when he writes, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways” (1 Cor. 13:11). That comes in the middle of a poetic section on love. Love takes courage, putting away childish ways marked by a perspective of greed and one’s feelings of personal pride. We move past our sense of entitlement when we continually recognize all that we have comes by grace. Our hearts will overwhelm with gratitude, and we will live in humility before others and God. Maturing people grow in gratitude and humility because what drives them is something greater than themselves.
So, when a young man, for example, has not developed the skills necessary to enter a career, but has completed his college degree — something’s clearly wrong. The system has failed him and parental influences have not prepared him well for life as a responsible adult.
And it’s not just that the economy is down, though that could be the reason for joblessness for a season. Let me suggest that the real issue is that for years this young man was coddled into thinking the world revolved around him, and he was happy to live in that fantasy world. (“You can do and be anything you want to be,” his parents told him.) Things came easily, as he didn’t have to work or sacrifice too hard.
Then when a real challenge comes along he will escape into the world he knows best. This may help explain why for some men their hobbies are self-oriented (and take valuable time from their families to go ‘recreate’), while for maturing men their hobbies are renewing and constructive (the true meanings of ‘re-creation’).
We who have been created in the image of God were born for so much more! Apathy kills a million great dreams before they are pursued. When Christ rescues us, and continues His rescuing work in us, we cannot help but move past our apathetic selves to embrace His passionately-driven life. Our destiny is to join God in a path of renewal in this world, being collaborators and leaders for a better future. When we have a hard time taking responsibility for ourselves (by living in apathy), we cannot take courage to be responsible for others (a mark of true leadership). But when we take the responsibility afforded to us today, and are faithful with the little we have, Christ will give us more responsibility and thus more grace to enjoy.
In short, while it seems that a happy-go-lucky but apathetic person is free to do whatever he or she pleases, in reality this person is bound and enslaved by their own sinful nature. We were meant to be far more free than we’re living. Seize the day, my friends. Do what He’s set before you. What’s the next godly response He desires for you? Walk in that direction. However small the task or step may seem.