Acts 17:11 Archives

The Motivation Genre

An email from Dean VanDruff concerning the Acts 17:11 Bible Study titled "The Race" and in discussion of the "Motivational Mindset" that has flourished in recent years within the church.

Most of the motivation genre is the same basic idea in a thousand different suits, from clown to pin-stripe to camouflage to sport uniform to military regalia. But beneath the costume is the basic idea that you can/should lift yourself up by your own bootstraps. And the basic way to do this is put a carrot out in front of your nose. Boiled down even further, the essential idea is "save yourself".

Mat 27:40-42 (NIV) "Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!" In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. "He saved others," they said, "but he can't save himself! He's the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him."

That "motivational technique" is "of the flesh" is all too clear. In some more strident cases it may even be in direct counterpoint to the Gospel.

As to utility, our problem here is much like the rich young ruler's. God asks us to give up what we most hold dear, what has worked for us, what is not wholly bad, what can be used for good, etc. etc. It is not an easy choice to make, nor is it one many have made well.

My own rejection of these techniques did not come all at once, but rather gradually; and first with spiritual things. This then spilled over to other areas of my life, including my career and work. As I began to discard these techniques, God was quick to reward my obedience and to rebuke me when I was duplicitous--saying/praying truths I was not living out.

Since that time, God has prospered me abundantly. It is hard to say what might have happened with the other "system", and who knows but what I might be even better off financially. But God had other plans for me, to train me in the "family way". I wrote up a little "testimony" about this--directly in context--posted at:

As for me, in renouncing the motivational genre I have certainly not lacked money or productivity, and have had the joy of the Lord and the "rest" of the Holy Spirit as well--true and eternal prosperity! This is why I encourage others to at least consider the option that there might be a better way.

Often people ask me for career advice. I wince at this, because I know that what I will say sounds so opposite of conventional wisdom. But the Lord told us to "shout from rooftops" what He has whispered to us in secret, so I speak to generally dumb stares.

I say, "Stop using self projected goals to generate motivation. Put all goals at the foot of the cross and count the cost in advance that most will NOT be resurrected. Then rest! Let Jesus be your goal setter and motivator and conniver and planner. He might just even share some of these with you from time to time. His "success" for you might look a lot like failure to those without spiritual eyes (witness Stephen going down in a hail of stones). But the new wine will not go into old wineskins. If this is foolishly attempted, both wine and wineskin will be lost."

The Race Bible Study I am not dogmatic on, and even consider that it might be more of a personal calling than a general principal. If it ministers to you in the days ahead, then keep in touch. If it is just my opinion, then it will fade from view and the Lord will guide you into His will in the future.

2Th 3:5 (NIV) May the Lord direct your hearts into God's love and Christ's perseverance.

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