What Drives Us? Preference?

I’ll be re-posting and completing an unfinished series asking the question “What drives us?”  We’ll look into why we do, think and feel the way we do. Can’t promise it will be epic, but it has been a long-time in coming. (This one is a re-post, following up from previous ones looking at Perfection, Protection & Apathy. More to come, as well as a parallel series in the new year, [in]complete.)

The core idea is this: we either make our decisions based on God’s promises in the Gospel, or on something else. What is that something else? What drives us? What motives lie beneath the surface?

The idea came to me while meditating on the difference between guilt as a motivator and curiosity, joy, passion, etc…. and for context I must say I was driving. In fact, over a two-minute drive home my mind was flooded with a list of a dozen words that start with “P,” and all describe why we do what we do. I couldn’t pause and jot down notes quick enough. In a future post I will share the scriptural background, and how these motivations interrelate. Plus, how I have used these categories in pastoral counseling.

So, what drives us?

Consider this one relatively easy to identify: our preferences.

Situation … response:

When all is well in my life …When trials enter my life …When I am criticized, I …My relationship with God is …MotivationWhen I sin …I trust…My greatest strengths/ weaknesses are…My identity is found in …
I feel like my relationship with God couldn’t be better.I try to move on to a better situation.Am sometimes hurt, and move on to other people, places or things.A high priority, but doesn’t necessarily impact every square inch of my life.PreferencesI am actually probably more aware of others’ failures than my own.in those who meet my needs and wants.s: my ability to make wise choices
w: those (morons) around memy refined tastes and desire
  • When all is well in my life I feel like my relationship with God couldn’t be better.
  • When trials enter my life I try to move on to a better situation. (I strong desire my circumstances to adapt to my needs and comforts.)
  • When I am criticized I am sometimes hurt, and move on to other people, places or things.
  • My relationship with God is a high priority, but doesn’t necessarily impact every square inch of my life.
  • Motivation: Preferences (maintaining personal freedoms and comforts).
  • When I sin I am actually probably more aware of others’ failures than my own.
  • I trust in those who meet my needs and wants.
  • My greatest strengths/weaknesses are
    • [strength]: my ability to make wise choices;
    • [weakness]: those (morons) around me.
  • My identity is found in … my refined tastes and desires.

What is the antidote to living a preference-driven life?

Meditate on Jesus, who though He was rich became poor for us, setting aside His comforts to meet our deepest true needs. He is not only our Example, He is the perfect sacrifice for our sinful nature. He lived the life we should have lived, but haven’t, and died the death we should die, but don’t have to. Meditate on His love and grace; prepare to be amazed.

Put yourself outside your comfort zone, going places and staying in situations longer than you personally feel comfortable. All excitement and adventure in life happens when we’re stretched, which is also how all growth happens (with some tension and discomfort).

Elevate others, by noticing them, taking an interest, and speaking joy into their lives. Do you know the name of the gas attendant you see each week? Who daily serves you and yet rarely hears words of gratitude from your lips? Outdo others in showing honor.

Invite others to enjoy their preferences in your company. When having company over, insist on asking questions about them, and seeing what they want to do. Be a good friend.

Ask God (& others). Ask the gracious Father to reveal to you the hidden fears you have of letting go of your comforts. Ask a close friend if they will be honest with you and tell you if you essentially protect your comforts at all costs and are preference-driven in your daily habits. Remember: community is the context for all lasting change.

If you’re not a follower of Jesus, I cannot promise these changes will take root. You cannot pull yourself up; you must be pulled.

If you are a follower of Jesus, I cannot promise these changes will be enjoyable — for a moment — but the joy that comes by preferring God’s will above our own cannot be measured. Jesus said doing the Father’s will was for Him like His daily necessary food.

Paul helps us see why the Gospel gives us are far more attractive role in life:

‘Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.’

—Philippians 2:14-16

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