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