By: Dr. Daniel Graham
Motivation is the reason why we choose to act or behave in a particular way; motivation is the reason why we do what we do.
I remember my first year practicing out of vet school. As I learned, as I formed habits, as I spoke or acted in certain ways; I was reacting to my motivations. I was motivated by my desire to not look incompetent in front of my boss. I was motivated by my hope that I wouldn’t disappoint my clients. I was motivated by my constant fear that I didn’t actually know what I was doing. I was motivated by my yearning to impress our clinic staff with my bright ideas and fancy skills.
My motivations guided my thoughts, determining the actions of my hands and the words of my mouth. I had a few brilliant moments, and also too many moments of embarrassment when I was lead astray by my own pride.
King David had a lot to be proud of (leaving aside his few moments of shame mixed in). A warrior king, a noble statesman, a beloved leader, and a man after God’s own heart. David led his army to victory in battle and his people in worship of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In the end, David had one motivating desire that he shared with the people of his kingdom: “I had it in my heart to build a house as a place of rest for the ark of the covenant of the LORD, for the footstool of our God, and I made plans to build it. But God said to me, ‘You are not to build a house for my Name, because you are a warrior and have shed blood’” (1 Chronicles 28: 2b-3).
With a motivation to glorify his God over himself, David desired to build for the Lord a temple even more magnificent than his own palace. Even knowing that he would not put up this house for God with his own hands, it did not alter his motivation to worship his creator, provider, and protector. As David prayed over the plans for the temple and the offering brought through the joyful generosity of the people, we see a glimpse of his motivation.
“I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent” (1 Chronicles 29:17a)
David was not motivated by a desire to look competent or by a longing that he wouldn’t disappoint his people. He was not motivated by a nagging fear or by a yearning to impress others.
His thoughts were on integrity. And willingness. And honest intent.
His motivation was to follow the path of righteousness, despite the barriers and opposition and despite who may or may not be observing him. His motivation was to give with complete abandon to the God who had given so much to him. His motivation was to do the right thing in God’s sight, with no thought of glorifying himself or gratifying the desires of his own flesh.
My tendency may be to seek my own pride and satisfaction as I follow the weakness of my flesh. But my conscience choice every day must be to lay these things down as I look to the higher way; living a life of integrity, done with complete willingness, and with nothing but the most honest intentions at heart. I pray for the strength of the Holy Spirit to help me to follow where these motivations will lead as I humbly serve my Lord and my King.