What Motivates You?
What motivates you? Apparently there’s an online questionnaire that asks this question. I came across it in an article I was reading this week and thought I’d join in the fun. I discovered the quiz is really designed to assess our motivation at work. The results place you in one of five categories in terms of motivation: Achievement, Power, Affiliation, Security, and Adventure. I’ll let you guess my results, but what stood out to me in the original article is that more than 20,000 people had participated in the survey and apparently 26% of people are driven by Security but only 16% are driven by Adventure. The author’s point in bringing this up is that we are inherently risk averse. Margie Warrell has written several works on the subject and she offered a great perspective as well, saying, “We are innately risk averse and afraid of putting our vulnerability on the line. The status quo, while not particularly fulfilling, can seem like an easier, softer, less scary, option.” She would attribute our aversion to adventure is based in four main reasons. 1) We over-estimate the probability of something going wrong. We focus more on what might go wrong than what might go right. 2) We exaggerate the consequence of what might happen if it does go wrong. We fail to appreciate our ability to intervene and prevent any further impact. 3) We underestimate our ability to handle the consequences of risk. We often avoid new challenges because we don’t trust in our ability to rise to those said challenges. 4) We discount or deny the cost of inaction, and sticking with the status quo. Unfortunately, issues that remain unaddressed tend to grow larger, not smaller.
As you can tell, I found these articles somewhat interesting. What caught my eye initially was the subject of adventure. Jennifer and I identified a theme for 2019. We try to do this most years. Through prayer and discussion we try to sense something God wants us to focus on that can help us embrace the year ahead. As we recently reflected on 2019, it took us back to the word that we saw as being thematic this past year… Adventure. And what an adventure it was. We took our entire family to China. We grew our family through the miracle of adoption. Jennifer took a new job. There was a lot of adventure in our lives where the unknowns overshadowed the knowns. And what an incredible experience it has been. One of the greatest lessons from this year of adventure was that life is not meant to be lived by us choosing the path we think is easiest. That can be the tendency. Choose safety. Choose security. Choose the status quo. When in reality, life is much more enjoyable when we choose a path that is the most meaningful. The difficulty here is that what is meaningful is often difficult and comes with risk. You have to face unknowns and embrace the adventure.
Of course, when I read articles like the ones mentioned above and when I reflect back on 2019, I do so with a perspective that emphasizes God over self. I don’t think our confidence to embrace adventure should be driven so much by a trust in our own abilities, but a confidence in His plan and His provision. Moreover, to trust in His call.
This past Sunday we had an opportunity to reflect on the stories of the patriarchs. Their stories are indicative of so many others in Scripture. They are not filled with ease and comfort and security, but with risk, uncertainty… adventure. In short, what we realize is that following Jesus should be the greatest adventure of our lives. It should be filled with excitement, the thrill of the unknown and taking risks—trusting not in our ability to manage difficulty, but trusting in the Creator who is Lord of all.
So let me ask, where is He calling you? Where is He leading you as you approach a new year?
As you prayerfully consider such questions, let me offer similar advice that is derived from the points above: 1) When He calls you to do something, be it to share with your neighbor, demonstrate radical generosity, take a new job, move overseas, care for an orphan, or whatever it may be… think more about what can go right than what can go wrong. 2) Don’t underestimate His ability to give you what you need. Yes, it may be incredibly difficult. But if it is God who has called you, then it will be incredibly meaningful as well. Don’t trust in your ability. Trust in His. Even if things go wrong and you begin to sink in the waves of doubt and hardship, know that His hand is there to catch you. 3) Don’t deny the cost of inaction. To miss out on God’s call is far more costly than following it. If you feel His prompting, don’t convince yourself that inaction is more reasonable. Think of those who heard Jesus call them to follow him and they offered excuses. Think of all the incredible healings, miracles, teaching and life-changing experiences they missed out on. Inaction is far more costly than action.
So, as we approach the new year, let us choose adventure. Let us think of Paul’s words in Ephesians and wherever He calls us, may we live a life where we fearlessly make known the mystery of the Gospel. - Jerimiah Smith, Pastor