Stay Motivated (Boot Camp for Creators & Dreamers 18)

Let’s play a word game. What’s our motive? Funny you asked.

Today Noah Webster is called the Father of American Scholarship and Education.

According to one of our favorite reference works, Noah Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language, the 1828 Edition, the word motive means: “that which incites to action; that which determines the choice, or moves the will.” Hey, times change, but why should the basic definitions of words? So Webster’s classic original version works just fine for us.

Of course, new words have a knack for finding their way into our lexicon, and for those we must resort to later editions of Webster’s. Such is the case with the term motivate, which means “to provide with a motive; or to impel (to urge or drive forward). Neat, huh?

Motive (and motivation) is the inner drive, impulse, or intention that leads a person to respond or act in a certain manner. It’s the goal, stimulus, or incentive (often a reward) that inspires and encourages one to action. Motive is also the inducement that spurs one to increased activity and endurance.

Other words associated with motive and motivate include “drive” (the urge or force that moves people to greater heights of achievement) and “push” (as in “a good kick in the pants”). In the Disney movie Marvel’s The Avengers, super-spy and fabulous facilitator Nick Fury assembles the world’s greatest heroes to defend the earth against an alien attack; however, his would-be team is fragmented by colossal egos and conflicting viewpoints. One of the Avengers comments: “What are we, a team? No. We’re a chemical mixture that makes chaos. We’re … we’re a time-bomb.”

But then something terrible happens: S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Phil Coulson, the ultimate “nice guy” and everyone’s best friend, is killed in action. Saddened and in despair, Nick Fury gathers his Avengers and tells them, “There was an idea … to bring together a group of remarkable people to see if they could become something more. To see if they could work together when we needed them to, to fight the battles that we never could. Phil Coulson died, still believing in that idea — in heroes. Well, it’s an old-fashioned notion.”

Good guy Agent Coulson collected Captain America trading cards: “Gotta admit, I’m a huge fan.”

Fury didn’t despair for long, though, because the Avengers found, in the death of their lost friend Phil Coulson, a reason to put aside their differences, and arise to meet the challenges they faced. Agent Maria Hill, Fury’s right-hand woman, asks her boss, Why the change? And Fury softly responds, “They needed a push.”

We creators and dreamers usually need a similar push to keep us motivated and moving forward. Call it a “great cause” or a “higher purpose,” but it’s often a reason or an objective that’s bigger than ourselves. Perhaps it’s a vision so fabulous, so fantastic, that we’ll never be able to pull it off without God’s help. Perhaps it’s the idea that what we’re trying to accomplish will bless the people we love, our families, our communities, and our brothers and sisters in the Lord; a divine assignment God has chosen us to complete.

Everyone, in fact, needs a sense of purpose. But where does one turn to discover purpose? The search begins with the Creator of the Universe: God.

Nick Fury to Captain America, after Coulson’s death: “These were in Phil Coulson’s jacket. I guess he never did get you to sign them.”

“It’s not about you.” That’s how pastor and author Rick Warren begins his best-selling book The Purpose-Driven Life. “The purpose of your life,” Warren writes, “is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness. It’s far greater than your family, your career, or even your wildest dreams and ambitions. If you want to know why you were placed on this planet, you must begin with God. You were born by His purpose and for His purpose.”

The Apostle Paul writes, “God is always at work in you to make you willing and able to obey His own purpose.” (Philippians 2:13 GNT)

So how do I find my purpose?

“The search for the purpose of life has puzzled people for thousands of years,” Warren states. “That’s because we typically begin at the wrong starting point — ourselves. We ask self-centered questions like … What are my goals, my ambitions, my dreams for my future? But focusing on ourselves will never reveal our life’s purpose. The Bible says, “It is God who directs the lives of his creatures; everyone’s life is in his power.” [Job 12:10 GNT]

Rest assured, however, that a significant part of God’s purpose is for each of us to become all we can be. “God has made us what we are [For we are his handiwork/workmanship/work of art]. In Christ Jesus, God made [created] us to do good works, which God planned in advance for us to live our lives doing.” (Ephesians 2:10 EXB) Part of those good works are the creativity, hopes, and dreams we cherish.

Agent Coulson: “We’ll be outmanned and outgunned. But Fury always said… a man can accomplish anything when he realizes he’s a part of something bigger. A team of people who share that conviction can change the world. So, what do you say? You ready to change the world?”

But it all starts with God. He’s the One who grants us the vision; who puts the dream into our hearts; and He’s the One who bestows the gifts and talents necessary to achieve great things. “‘For in Him we live and move and have our being. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are His offspring.'” (Acts 17:28 MEV) Therefore, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men….” (Colossians 3:23 ESV)

Got purpose? Pursue God. Then pursue your dreams with the help of God. “But first, be concerned about His kingdom and what has His approval. Then all these things will be provided for you.” (Matthew 6:33 GW)

Your Heavenly Father will become your personal “dream coach.” Knowing He’s on your side will keep you motivated … so you can achieve great things. “I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will [continue to] perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus [the time of His return]. (Philippians 1:6 AMP) “For God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.” (Romans 11:29 NIV)

We’ll discuss a few more aspects of staying motivated in our next session.

Nick Fury: “I’ve got my eye on you.”

Your Heavenly Father will become your personal “dream coach.” Knowing He’s on your side will keep you motivated … so you can achieve great things. “I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will [continue to] perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus [the time of His return]. (Philippians 1:6 AMP) “For God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.” (Romans 11:29 NIV)

We’ll discuss a few more aspects of staying motivated in our next session.

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Set Boundaries & Please God (Boot Camp for Creators & Dreamers 17.4)

Quick Review: You can’t accomplish much in life if you’re double-minded about your goals and dreams. So make a decision and stick to it. Keep your eyes on God, not your problems. Stay focused! And, to avoid being pulled in multiple directions, prayerfully evaluate the needs and expectations of those around you. Continue to honor God by helping others, but maintain a sensible balance. It’s okay to say “No” to unnecessary or unreasonable requests.

Do you have trouble saying “No”? Then you need to re-evaluate your priorities and learn to set boundaries. Again, we never want to get so focused and bent on our own agendas that we neglect the precious people God puts in our paths. But it’s okay to tend to our own needs — and to pursue the dreams God has placed in our hearts. Balance is key. Unfortunately, many of us never mastered the balancing act. Instead we try to juggle too many tasks and requests; and generally end up dropping the ball (or several).

How do we maintain a balance?

  • Make time for yourself. Don’t get greedy — but be kind to YOU. God expects us to give and to serve, but He’s certainly NOT a taskmaster! In fact, He reassures us, “…The teaching that I ask you to accept is easy. The load I give you to carry is light.” (Matthew 11:30 ERV)

  • Stop feeling guilty. You cannot meet every need or live up to every expectation. This may come as a complete surprise to you, but we have it on good authority that you’re only human. Besides, even our Lord Jesus Christ was careful to take time out from His mission on earth. He taught the truth, fed thousands, and healed the sick; but He also scheduled times of rest and recreation: dinner and fellowship with a friend; and retreats with His Heavenly Father. Jesus maintained a balance and never felt guilty about it. Why would He feel guilt? He was without sin. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
  • Learn to discern between a genuine need (that only you can meet) and a want (which can often be selfish, unreasonable, unnecessary, and even frivolous).
  • Regardless, ask yourself: “Is it time for someone else to step up to the plate.” By not taking on more than your share, you can silently help your brothers and sisters be accountable: “Help each other with your troubles. When you do this, you are obeying the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to do this, you are only fooling yourself. …You must each accept the responsibilities that are yours.” (Galatians 6:2-5 ERV)
  • Distinguish between what’s urgent versus what’s important. President Dwight D. Eisenhower used this principle to guide him through a major war and two terms in the White House. He once stated, “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.” Confusing?
I like Ike … because he stayed focused.

Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote, explains: “Urgent tasks are tasks that have to be dealt with immediately. …Things like phone calls, tasks with impending deadlines, and situations where you have to respond quickly. Responding to an email, when you have to do it, is usually an urgent task. Important tasks are tasks that contribute to long-term missions and goals. …Things like that book you want to write, the presentation you’d like to make for a promotion, and the company you plan on starting.”

Got that? No? Well then … we have a coupon for a free bar of soap, but it expires at midnight. We need to go to the store RIGHT NOW! Please stop what you’re doing and drive us — so we can pick up our free soap and save seventy-nine cents!

  • Recognize that there will always be demands on your time. Meet the ones which are truly important.
  • Set boundaries. Christian authors Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend explain in their book, Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No, “Just as homeowners set physical property lines around their land, we need to set mental, physical, emotional and spiritual boundaries for our lives to help us distinguish what is our responsibility and what is not.”
No boundaries: Not a pretty sight!

We always want to be loving, accepting and helpful, but there are some problems we can’t fix, some needs we cannot or should not meet. And even when we can help solve things, we need to remember that we’re only human and that our time and resources, as well as our physical and emotional energies, are limited. “If we fail to set some boundaries, people can even keep us from doing the work God wants us to do!  So, drawing the line is not being selfish. To the contrary, the “…Goal of learning boundaries is to free us up to protect, nurture and develop the lives God has given us stewardship over.” (Boundaries, p. 285)

Sad to say, life is full of needy people (some who are well-meaning, but also some who are just “takers”) who will try to hog your time, abuse your willingness to help and serve, invade your privacy, manipulate your emotions, exploit your gifts — basically control your life! If allowed to, these people (especially the takers) can pull you way off course. Whether unintentionally or not, they can keep you from achieving your own everyday goals and, ultimately, fulfilling your dreams.

  • Realize that every time we say “yes” to something, we’re automatically saying NO to something else. And, if you’re a true servant and/or giver, don’t be surprised when people start lining up at your door. The world desperately needs more Barnabas people who are willing to lend a helping hand. Therefore, once a friend, relative, or coworker discovers one, they’ll want to “dip into the well” as many times as possible.

But nobody’s well is inexhaustible. So, before yours runs completely dry, start setting limits. If we fail to set boundaries, someone will always have us jumping at their every whim and cry, and we’ll end up constantly stressed out and frustrated with life. Eventually, we burn out!

  • On that note, STOP TRYING TO BE A PEOPLE-PLEASER! You cannot be all things to all people. Nor can you ever hope to meet all their expectations. You’re not here to win a popularity contest. And in regards to your life, dreams, and creative pursuits, you don’t need the approval of men — so seek God’s approval instead. The Apostle Paul writes, “I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.” (Galatians 1:10 NLV)

Don’t waste time wondering why someone doesn’t want to hang out with you — or support you in  the pursuit of your dreams. Obviously that person is not part of your destiny. Not to worry, because Jesus experienced the same thing. Many of the religious leaders of the day snubbed Him, but God supplied our Lord with plenty of genuine friends who fully supported Christ’s mission on earth (and with no strings attached). Jesus never had
to play politics or buy their devotion. He simply shared His great dream and stayed focused, thus changing the world forever. Let’s do likewise!

“…I am single-minded: …Reaching out for the things that are ahead, with this goal in mind, I strive toward the prize….” (Philippians 3:13-14 NET)

Next: Stay Motivated (Friday)

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