My Ecclesiastes – Motivation

The past year has been quite a journey for me, and I expect that the trip is nowhere near over. As I read the book of Ecclesiastes recently, I was reminded again about how even the wisest man who ever lived had to walk a path full of “wrong turns” in order to get to the destination. Solomon tested knowledge, pleasure, power, and a host of other sources for the meaningful life that his heart ached for, but in the end, here’s what he comes to:

Now all has been heard;
   here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
   for this is the duty of all mankind.
               (Ecclesiastes 12)

I believe that. Wholeheartedly. The search for “life” ends in God. There is nothing else that will fulfil, noone else who can validate us (me) to a place where it’s all “worthwhile.”

I’ve also come to understand my role in this life. Well, that may be a bit bold. Certainly, I don’t know everything about what I’m supposed to do for the rest of my life or see the exact image of how I fit into the puzzle, but I see a good portion about how my uniquely created heart fits into the body of Christ. I’m learning what makes me “come alive,” and I’m going and doing that. I’m catching visions of what God is asking me to do, short and long term. That’s amazing. It’s something I’ve never experienced in life. It’s something I want to experience for the rest of my life. I never want this to go away again.

But… yeah, you knew what was coming, right? But.

But what I fight is the day-to-day. I’ve received some great coaching and mentoring along the lines of goal setting, strategic planning, and personal development. I know how to set goals that art attainable, measurable, and all that. I even find my life centered much more around that way of life than it used to be. It’s the motivation thing that gets me…

Motivation to…

…get to bed on time and get up early like I need to.
…make my followup and sales calls on a regular / daily basis, instead of letting them pile up
…make plans for big things that will never happen by themselves or with a single week’s worth.
…step up and let my voice be heart, even though it’s not as confident as I wish it was.

I even hopped over to Wikipedia, and it starts off right where I’m at:

Motivation is the driving force by which humans achieve their goals. Motivation is said to be intrinsic or extrinsic. … Motivation may be rooted in a basic need to minimize physical pain and maximize pleasure, or it may include specific needs such as eating and resting, or a desired object, goal, state of being, ideal, or it may be attributed to less-apparent reasons such as altruism, selfishness, morality, or avoiding mortality. Conceptually, motivation should not be confused with either volition or optimism. Motivation is related to, but distinct from, emotion.

I watched this documentary the other day about Seal Team 6, the guys that raided and took out Osama Bin Ladin. “Extremely Self-Motivated men,” this show called them. “Is there even such a thing,” I wondered? I hear that put in a variety of forms… Self Motivated, Type A, Driven…. all of those things. And that’s not ME. I don’t WANT it to be me, in fact. And in reality, I doubt it’s really anybody. Something is motivating those who seem to need no motivation other than a tap on the shoulder… self, pride, determination… something.

And this is my little ecclesiastical moment. I may not be searching for meaning in life, but I am searching for something… something that will drive me, motivate me.

I don’t want to figure that all out. I don’t want answer. But I want to understand my heart. I want to know it. To take captive the realm I have been given and put it into the service of the king.

That’s really where this all boils down to. S.D.G. Solo Deo Gloria. All Glory to God. That phrase captures it for me as a barometer, because when I measure what I’m doing against it, I can see the difference between what’s driven by my own pride and selfishness and fear and what’s driven by an all-out-craziness to see God’s name lifted up.

I want to keep that in front of me, all day, every day. In the back of my head and right in front of my eyes. I must. I’m not sure what will “work” for me, and perhaps a life of dissatisfaction with my own status quo is not a bad thing. On the other hand, God is doing great things, and He’s doing many of them right around my little realm, and that’s exciting to watch right now. Not because of me. Not even necessarily through me. Often in spite of me. But certainly around me. I am so thankful for eyes to see, and I pray for a heart to continue to follow, chase, and one of these days capture that wild goose called “what motivates chet?”

While I’m hear, I searched my blogs for posts I’ve made about motivation, and there certainly are a few. Here are a couple links…

Kingship and Fatherhood

Psalms 72:1-20 : Kingship and Fatherhood
Tuesday, March 31, 2009 2:00 AM

From Deuteronomy 17:

14 “When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, take possession of it, live in it, and say, ‘We want to appoint a king over us like all the nations around us,’ 15 you are to appoint over you the king the LORD your God chooses. Appoint a king from your brothers. You are not to set a foreigner over you, or one who is not of your people. 16 However, he must not acquire many horses for himself or send the people back to Egypt to acquire many horses, for the LORD has told you, ‘You are never to go back that way again. ‘ 17 He must not acquire many wives for himself so that his heart won’t go astray. He must not acquire very large amounts of silver and gold for himself. 18 When he is seated on his royal throne, he is to write a copy of this instruction for himself on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests. 19 It is to remain with him, and he is to read from it all the days of his life, so that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to observe all the words of this instruction, and to do these statutes. 20 Then his heart will not be exalted above his countrymen, he will not turn from this command to the right or the left, and he and his sons will continue ruling many years over Israel.

I did not know this was in Deuteronomy. From 1 Samuel 8, when it came to pass:

So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.”

6 But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. 7 And the LORD told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. 9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do.”

10 Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will do: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the LORD will not answer you in that day.”

19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”

In Deuteronomy God fortells of the longing of a king. God’s kind of king. A king who purposefully reigns under and with God’s authority. In 1 Samuel, the people ask for a king, but what Samuel tells them they’ll get is not at all what God told them they should hope for in a king. Why the difference? Both passages talking about the desire for a king coming from the people because they want to be like other nations. It’s almost like the king described in Deuteronomy would be more of a loving, rulling judge than the warrior king described in 1 Samuel. Maybe this is the difference. I particularly noticed the last words in the Samuel Passage: we want a king to lead us and go out before us and fight our battles. They wanted a king to do their work for them. Even though Samuel told them that they’d be the people thrown to the front of the battlefield, that their women would basically be made slaves, and that their land, money, and possessions would be taxed and taken over. They wanted someone to do their work for them, and God originally wanted a King to rule over them in His authority… to represent Him.

As I think about this more, it starts to click. A leader is not simply a leader because he tells people what to do. He is a leader because he has authority; because he speaks on behalf of someone or something bigger than himself. This is how Jesus led. Not in his own power but that of his Father. Not in his own strength but in the power of the One who sent him. He is the kind of King predicted in Deuteronomy… he is THE king predicted in Deuteronomy.

I loved the Psalm for today as well, which is described as “a prayer for the king” in the HSB. It’s also described as relating to Solomon, so when I first read this, I thought maybe this was one of his wise sayings… an example – a picture – of the kind of King talked about in Deuteronomy.

1 God, give Your justice to the king

and Your righteousness to the king’s son. (B)

2 He will judge Your people with righteousness

and Your afflicted ones with justice. (C)

3 May the mountains bring prosperity [a] to the people,

and the hills, righteousness. (D)

4 May he vindicate the afflicted among the people,

help the poor,

and crush the oppressor. (E)

Here the prayer is for God’s justice to be given to the king… for His righteousness. For him to defend, not attack. To help, not oppress. As I read this, I thought… what a godly leader this would be! What a prayer this would be if we prayed this for our leaders, and if our leaders prayed this for themselves. And then I got to the last phrase in this psalm, and it HIT me.

The prayers of David son of Jesse are concluded.

This is not Solomon praying for himself. This is not the people praying for the king. This is a FATHER passing the mantle to his son. This is a blessing bestowed from father to son, from king to prince. These are David’s “final words.” As I read this I wonder how often the leaders we have – nation, state, organization, church, home – receive this kind of blessing and prayer from their fathers. No wonder so many of our leaders have lost their way; they didn’t know it in the first place or have it set / told / set upon them by those who preceded them!

What to do here? “Being Fathered” is a huge concept in my life, something I long to learn about and share, and honestly… to experience. I no longer look go my earthly dad for this, but still recognize that I need it – from “fill-the-gap” fathers here on earth, but ultimately, from my Heavenly Father. It’s so important, and here it is, put into words as David passes the mantle to his son in Psalms. As God declares what His King will be like in Deuteronomy.

Fathers, love your children. Raise them up your entire life to be your sons, but even more, to be God’s sons. Teach them the word. Bind it on your heart so that you can show them how to bind it onto theirs. Model it. Share it. Do it with them. And when the time comes for your last words, for your “final prayer,” may it be a blessing to those that follow you, a life well lived as a model for what a man chasing after God can do through him.