A friend emailed to ask me for a story I had told him a few years back. It lead me to answer the big question.
Why do I do what I do?
I have had different motivations for why I have worked in missions and international relief and development work for as long as I have.
This lead to an interesting exchange on work, motives, the meaning of life, God, mission, compassion, and motives.
I posted the exchange here:
I was looking on your site for that story about bad motives… the guy befriending you only to sell you something etc. Couldn’t find it. Could you tell me what section of your website that story is in, or, if its not there, could you send it to me. I writing a little thing on motives and thought I could use it to illustrate. Thanks!
Hey Steve, here is the link to that post
Feel free to use it, you may recognise yourself as ‘the friend’ in the story.
Thanks Mark. Just gave it a read and I think I’ll use it. You’re a good writer. I’ll be sure to reference!
I’m putting together what will eventually be a book, but is presently a five session seminar on the subject of evangelism. It’s called E-Quipped, and I’ve taught it before, but am trying to make it better.
I’m working on a bit right now basically saying that our motives matter, and that a good deed is only as good as the motive behind it. I believe compassion is to be our primary motivation and am trying to put together an inspiring definition and explanation of compassion, what it is, what it looks like, and where to get it.
Got any thoughts on this one?
Definitely! These are my disjointed thoughts. I realize that when I type I tend to forcefully suggest my point of view, so read this with my friendly tone in mind …
I went through a struggle in terms of why I do what I do. I started in obedience, moved onto feelings (ie compassion), thought about ‘because it is good for me‘, and ended up in love, which is a good place to be.
I think that many people start to do mission work out of obedience to God. I have also seen how this can quickly devolves into contractual relationship, I serve God because he loves/saves/helps me. It can also become self-righteous salvation.
Those kind of people are painful to hang out with.
Feelings such as compassion dull. to work ourselves up into feeling for others, to ‘feel their pain’ is sort of a weekday talk show Dr Phil-ish way of rose colouring the world. Try as we might, most of the world does not feel this way … and when they are forced to – they resent it.
Third reason – ‘because it is good for me’ (brocolli and immunization needles) tend to last as long as a promise to quit smoking for many people. Just because it is good for me, isn’t enough!
So why do I do what I do. I think it is the reason why you do what you do. The same reason why anyone does what they do. It’s quite simple.
I do it because I want to. I love it.
I cannot help but do it. Others don’t feel this way and I am fine with it. They get to love other stuff, like accounting, which sounds like the seventh level of hell to me.
I believe we need to stop trying to convince others to do what we were created to love doing. We are different for a reason. It has been described by our ancient text in this way, “if the whole body was an eye, then where would the sense of smell be. We are all part of the human body. Find your place in it.” (paraphrased of course)
So the absolute best and healthiest thing that anyone can do to start this process is to find out what you love. Find your passion. Before you ever try to convince or inspire others to join you, find out what you would give up so much other stuff in order to live.
If I am honest, and I occasionally try to be, that’s my motive for doing what I do. I love it. Is it pure enough? Is it noble enough? Probably not, but it is why I wake up and look forward to my day.
Steve, I might just blog this interaction if that is all right? Respond in the comments?
Sounds good, I will