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.
Continue reading

What drives us? Perhaps nothing?

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.

We’ve looked at Preference, Perfection, and Protection. Now it’s time to consider the strongest force among my generation: apathy.

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 lifeI don’t think much about God; I’m doing okay on my own.
  • When trials enter my lifeI ask “why?” and blame others, because I feel like a victim.
  • When I am criticized, Iact 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 sinI 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 inwhat 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’).
Continue reading

What Drives us? Protection?

Time for installment three 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.

We’ve looked at Preference and Perfection. Now it’s time for a dominant purpose here in the comfy West: Protection — safety at all costs.

Does Protection drive you?

Let’s look at how this may play out in life.

Situation … response:

  • When all is well in my lifeI feel secure (and probably depend upon God [and pray] less).
  • When trials enter my lifeI pray more, for safety, for life to steady (to control my surroundings).
  • When I am criticized, IGet defensive or run away to a safe place, avoiding the pain.
  • My relationship with GodHelps me find shelter from the battles of daily life.
  • Motivation: Insecurity and fear.
  • When I sinI don’t want anyone else to know and guard my reputation tightly.  (I may be prone to shift blame to others who threaten my peace of mind.)
  • I trust in people who can keep me safe from any stress or harm. Who will protect me?
  • My greatest strengths/ weaknesses are … my strength is that I see dangers others neglect; my weakness is that I live a boring life.
  • My identity is found inbeing safe and comfortable, in having a good reputation.

What is the antidote?

The Gospel shows a God who is willing to forsake His own comfort, and endure pain and shame on our behalf (Hebrews 12:1-3). Why? Because it is worth it; God the Father and the reward at the other end is of far greater value. For that reason when we come to God through Jesus we can be assured that everything we forsake is of lesser value than Him.

When we learn to love God for who is He, more than what He can do for us, we are beginning to grasp that our comforts will fail us and He will satisfy. As we grow in endurance through suffering and dependence, we will become better (not bitter) and learn how to truly love ourselves. Self will no longer be the abiding center of our lives; God will be, and others will be higher on our radar. This is the beginning of what it means to “love your neighbor as yourself,” as Jesus taught. We love what we think about. And we think about what we love.

While our desire for protection is good, it simply cannot be ultimate. Otherwise our trusting in Christ would be the end and not the beginning of an amazing adventure, full of risk and reward, with dangers on every side (2 Cor. 4-6, esp. 4:7-12) and joy in risking everything for our Savior. In the day to day pressures of life, turning over our worries (our cares and anxiousness) helps us flee the idol of comfort and find security behind the walls of His power and love (Philippians 4:6-7).

Paul states it decisively:

“For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)

Are you willing to forgo your protection to find refuge in Him?

What Drives Us? Perfection.

I’ll be re-posting and finishing a 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.

What is that something else? What drives us? What motives lie beneath the surface? Catch up by reading the first one — Preference — and some thoughts on how these factors play out in pastoral counseling.

So, what drives us?

Perfection.I am a ‘recovering perfectionist,’ meaning when asked what drives me, I am more apt to make decisions based on getting things right and seek perfection than on other motives (like preference).

Perhaps I never want to be seen as lazy, or perhaps there is an inner drive for excellence. It can be both a strength and a weakness. When a drive for perfection becomes ultimate, it supplants the Perfect Creator as my source of significance. (The only remedy is to repent and believe the Gospel: we no longer have to work for significance in Christ; rather we work from significance in Christ, according to the Gospel.) There are a couple on this list that that I tend towards, and perfection-driven is one of them.

In short, if perfection drives me: I am my own worse critic, and like to have control.

Let’s look at how this plays out in life. Consider your own heart and motives.

Situation … response:

  • When all is well in my life … Hey, look at me! But I sometimes wonder why it’s not always like this.
  • When trials enter my life … I don’t want others to know that I don’t have my life all together. (So I don’t talk openly about my weaknesses.)
  • When I am criticized, I … Get defensive because no one realizes I’m probably superior to them.
  • My relationship with God is … Makes me feel better (or worse) depending on if I’m meeting my own standards & goals.
  • Motivation: Being right, jealousy.
  • When I sin … I think I should know and do better and beat myself up (failure). Vow to make it up.
  • I trust … in myself and those who share my high standards.
  • My greatest strengths/ weaknesses are … my strength is my high standards & wisdom; my weakness is that I can beat myself and others up emotionally
  • My identity is found in … my own abilities to control life and others.

Is that you?

Pride and guilt are horrible task-masters.

Repent of trusting in yourself and trust Christ for your acceptance before God and people.

Christianity: The only religion where man is saved when he stops trying to save himself.

By God’s grace we can experience change,
through continually realizing that Jesus is our Perfection,
because He is God’s only way of acceptance.

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.

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 … Motivation When 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. Preferences I 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 me my 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.
  • 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
  • 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.