I’m Just Not Motivated!

motivationI know I should get off my rear end and get some work done…but I’m just not motivated.  I often find myself in this position.  That is, sitting on a lazy boy watching TV or being in front of the computer.  Sometimes I just prefer to do nothing than to do something.  Why?  Good question.  Perhaps it is just that I’m exhausted from working and feel the need for a break.  Perhaps it is because I’m feeling a little down or depressed.  Maybe it is that I just don’t want to work or I just don’t feel like it.  Some people would call this laziness.  I call it being “Motivationally Challenged.”

Truth be told, we are motivated by what we want to do…what we feel like doing.  I remember one parent complaining that their child was so lazy that they refused to do chores or their homework.  Instead, they just  played video games, texted, or spoke on the phone to friends.  Is this child unmotivated and lazy?  Absolutely not.  Irresponsible perhaps, but not unmotivated.  They are motivated to do the things that he or she wanted to do…yet unmotivated to do the things that might take them away from doing what was wanted.  What motivates (most) children to do what they do not want to do?  Mostly fear and punishment.  “Do your homework or else…(no TV, phone, video games, etc.)” or “If you don’t do your chores, then…(you will not get dinner until it is done, you won’t go out to the movies with us, etc.).”

Rewards are used similarly with adults.  One wife told her husband, “Unless you finish your projects, you cannot buy that TV you want.”  So, of course, he finished the projects to receive his wife’s blessing.  And the TV looks great in the basement.   OK – I confess.  I am that husband.

What if we can be motivated by something other than rewards and punishment?  What if, instead, we were motivated by love?  Now I don’t pretend to have this perfected as I give this challenge.  This is a reminder for me, too.  The two most powerful motivators in life are fear and love.  Fear (for the most part) is more self-focused, yet love (as mentioned in Scripture) is to be directed towards others and God.  If a child obeys a parent out of fear, they are obeying so it will go better for themselves and their reward is here.  If someone chooses to do something because they “feel like it,” it is out of love for oneself.  But if someone does an act out of love for their parent, for God, or for another, their hearts are right before God and their reward will also be in heaven.

My challenge to you (and myself, of course) is when you (we) need to do something and are just not motivated, choose to do these actions out of love for God, for spouse, or for others.  In doing so we will be victorious over our motivationally challenged and self-centered selves and bring honor to God.  This is what Christ did for us.  This is what we are to do for God & others.

For Part 2 on removing obstacles for the Motivationally Challenged, Click Here!

Kid’s Day?

Yesterday was Father’s Day.  In May there was Mother’s Day.  On both of these holidays, my kids asked me, “How come there isn’t a Kid’s Day?” I laughed inside knowing I asked my parents this same question when I was a kid. And so I answered, “Well, you get a birthday and Christmas and you get way more gifts than mom and dad…so those are your days.” I think my parents answered me the same way, but I have since repressed such disappointing answers.  (Interestingly, there is a Children’s Day in Bulgaria…but don’t tell my kids that.  They’ll want to move there.)  In truth, Mother’s Day or Father’s Day isn’t about the gifts, per se, it’s about expressing appreciation to a mom or dad who sacrificed through the many years of service for you. It’s the expression of appreciation for their hard work, their love, and their commitment in your life so that you will be successful. One probably could not count the number of ways love has been expressed or shown from loving parents.  Though we know not all parents have been as sacrificial in love.  Many have experienced just the opposite from a mother or father who caused harm physically or emotionally.

And for those out there whose mothers or fathers left them, abused them, or treated them poorly, I want to remind you of one verse:  Psalm 27:10 – Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.”  You, oh blog reader, are cherished, loved, and received by God.  “Received“…now there’s an interesting word.  To be “received” by God is to be accepted by Him.  Can God truly accept me after all I have done wrong?  Can God really receive me even though I turn from Him and do my own thing?  When I did wrong at home, my parents turned from me, ignored me, and treated me harshly…Wouldn’t God do the same?  Isn’t that what I deserve?

The love of the Father is so great that His love pierced the depths of our sin.  Our punishment, that is, what we deserved, was taken by Jesus Christ.  He accepted our burden by being treated harshly for our sake so that we would not be treated harshly.  Now, because of Christ’s death on the cross (and resurrection), we can be “received” by God.  Our sins have fallen upon Christ and Christ’s righteousness rests on us.  Now, through faith in Christ, we are acceptable.  We are righteous.  We are His.

As a parent, there are times when it is so easy to look only at our children’s behaviors, stating disappointments or corrections while forgetting to emphasize that our children are acceptable to us as they are.  Christ’s death was for them, too.  We must not neglect to share with our children their need for a savior.  We must not neglect to share that they are acceptable to God through Christ and that they are acceptable to us as they are because our love is greater than their sins (as God’s love is greater than ours).

Well, there won’t be any National Kid’s Day soon.  They’ll keep asking, and we’ll keep telling them the same thing.  But truth be told, kids don’t need a Kid’s Day.  What they do need is your love and God’s love for them through the cross.  They are loved and accepted by God (just like you)…and this is something to celebrate!

The Foundations of a Godly Parent: The Heart of Parenting

Ah, parenting.  The opportunity God gives us to stretch our faith, learn selflessness, and how to 1) control anger, 2) pray, 3) let go, 4) trust, 5) love unconditionally, 6) teach, 7) act,  and 8) be a kid (my favorite part).   When I first got married, I realized that I was actually pretty self-centered.  When my wife and I had kids (2 in 1 shot! how efficient my wife is), then my eyes were opened all the more about my self-centeredness.  I once thought that I could get out of changing diapers, but when God gave us twins, I knew that was impossible.

Being a parent and a counselor, I’ve had an opportunity to read a lot of Christian parenting books.  After each one, I’ve felt convicted in some areas, challenged in some areas, and in other areas, felt actually good about myself…until I read the next parenting book.  My favorites are The Age of Opportunity by Paul Tripp and Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp.  These two books focused on one critical factor in parenting:  The heart.  What we say when we parent, what we do as parents, when we do it, and how we say or do it – all flow from the overflow of our hearts.   Often times, what I want from my children is conveyed to my children simply by how I respond to them….If I am in my own little world thinking of work or other things, I convey this to my children when I do not listen to them, or look at them when they are speaking to me, or ask them follow up questions.  I do not mean to convey that they are unimportant or not to bother me, but that is what occurs when my mind is not on them at the moment.

Frequently we have our own desires that are our main focus (sometimes spoken, sometimes not).  We often forget to focus on other important matters like raising godly children.  When we do remember, we often look to change our children’s behaviors to be more acceptable (behavior modification), and often do not focus on what drives their behaviors: the heart.  What is it that they are seeking?  What is it that they fear?  What is the driving force behind their actions?  Though we can work hard at changing our children’s behaviors, we must understand and focus closer on the heart.  After all, isn’t this what God looks at most?

Scriptures are not silent when addressing the hearts.  We could simply say that “God said don’t do that,” but that does not change the behaviors or the heart.  How does the heart change?  First, we must identify what is in the heart (ours and our kid’s hearts).  Then we must compare the heart motive with what the Scriptures teach about God in His Word (we will fall short).  Third, we must acknowledge our sin and need for a Savior and finally, acknowledge God’s forgiveness.   Only then can we move forward with repentant hearts towards change.

Keeping the cross central in our children’s lives (and ours!)  is essential in parenting.  There is nothing that is more important than Christ.  Not sports, music, ballet, scouts, video games, work, or any other thing. Let us keep our focus on our hearts, our children’s hearts, and on Christ.  He is the only one who can change our hearts (and our children’s hearts) to grow and to be like His.

This blog has been adapted from the Parenting Seminar: The Foundations of a Godly Parent.  For more information about this seminar, please contact us at 570-402-5088.