Motivation and Enthusiasm

“Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.”
~James Dean

What motivates you each day? What is it that causes your feet to hit the floor and get out of that bed to start another cycle of living? Is it routine? Or is there something bigger that drives you?

Motivation is one of those components of life that we talk a lot about but don’t spend a lot of time defining. Enthusiasm is often errantly considered motivation but it’s not. Enthusiasm is easier to generate but when it comes time to take action on the enthusiasm many will put it off and soon, never execute. The difference between enthusiasm and motivation is similar to the difference between lust and love in a relationship. One is easier because of its immediate reward. The other harder because it takes effort.

Motivation is when your doctor tells you that you have one year to lose 50 pounds or you’re going on medication. Motivation is when your job is eliminated and you have to reinvent yourself to employers. The actions you take in these situations are driven by motivation and NOT enthusiasm. The bible speaks of our work and death in these terms:

Every time you find work to do, do it the best you can. In the grave there is no work. There is no thinking, no knowledge, and there is no wisdom. And we are all going to the place of death.
(Ecclesiastes 9:10 ERV)

Realistically I’m entering the final third of my life as far as work is concerned. I hope I live that long but there are no promises. James Dean died in his mid-20’s not long after uttering the words I used at the beginning of this piece. What is it that I most want to achieve? A decent quality of life for sure. I want my wife and I to have some time together when our kids are grown so we can enjoy our final years together doing some things we’ve never gotten to do. But even larger than that is the legacy I leave behind for my son and daughters. Along with them are the people I’m honored to serve as a pastor. What eternal difference did I make in this brief window of time that God gave me to live my life? What can I do for someone else that will matter past the days I’m here? THAT is what motivates me. And the answers to these questions require a daily examination of my actions:

Then Jesus said to his followers, “If any of you want to be my follower, you must stop thinking about yourself and what you want. You must be willing to carry the cross that is given to you for following me.
(Matthew 16:24 ERV)

Your motivation might be different. But this is what I live for. Sure I’m enthusiastic about it but that’s not what DRIVES me. Don’t confuse the two. Plan your day with motivation in mind.

So what motivates you?

Motivation and Enthusiasm

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