Motivation. A concept I’ve been prompted to consider over the past few months due to my involvement in youth ministry. How to encourage…motivate kids to take matters of the faith seriously? To read an assigned passage of scripture or say a word of prayer, not to receive a word of favor or praise, but to do so because such efforts are necessary to be more like Christ; it’s a matter of identity.
Naturally, I began thinking about my own sources of motivation. I try to read the bible regularly and pray regularly, but why? I’d like to say I do it because I care deeply about being more Christ-like, but I’m realizing that a lot of the time, I’m motivated by the knowledge that, as a Christian, this is what I’m supposed to do. Is who I am even important to me, or am I just concerned with fulfilling the duties that I feel I have and pleasing the people I feel I need to please?
As a single Indian-American woman in her late 20s, I struggle with the reality of not fulfilling the expectations others have of me and that I have of myself. I battle internally when, in any way, I don’t live up to the idolized version of myself. The version of me that always says the right words at the right times, the version of me that is faithful, funny, smart, kind, beautiful, athletic, musical…perfect. To be this way, or at least perceived this way is sometimes my motivation in engaging in admirable efforts.
I had the privilege of having dinner with some dear friends earlier this year and this question was asked to a Hindu convert amongst us, “How did you deal with the burden and guilt of hurting your family when you converted to Christianity.” The response, “My love for Jesus was just so much greater.” His motivation was clear.
As our kids wrestle with the profound topic of identity during our New Life Friday meetings, I pray that they may grow to relate to my friend’s reply. As the Apostle Paul said,
“What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8).
I am a Christian. Doing “Christian things” should be motivated by my desire to gain more and more of Christ and to be like Him in every part of my life, because He alone is of surpassing worth. May this be our prayer for ourselves and the children of our church.
Sheryl Mathew is a member of GRC and serves in the youth ministry.