"And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not to men." Colossians 3:23
Peyton came to His Ranch last summer. He is a now almost-three-year-old sorrel quarter horse. We have been working to train him for riding. At first impression, Peyton is gentle and easy-going. Some of us, with our limited experience, have seen him as a slow learner and a plodder with no sense of motivation. We have struggled with things like getting him to walk forward when being led, or to run when working in the round pen. But in reality, Peyton is very smart. You see, horses are excellent at reading people. They know who is working with them, and they know who can make them do things and who can't. What I've been learning is that horses will only do as much as they have to. If you have the authority and energy to drive the horse to work hard, he knows it, and he'll do what you want. But if you're ho-hum about things and let him get away with being lazy, he'll take that advantage! Some horses take less encouragement to get them going. Peyton is one who needs a stronger hand. It's like children: some kids are super-sensitive to discipline and instruction. It doesn't take a lot to set them straight. On the other hand, some kids are strong-willed and independent. They are going to push the boundaries and test your authority to the limit. Some do it by acting out; others do it by playing lazy. That doesn't make them bad kids; they are just wired to need stronger guidance. When you get that strong will and energy controlled and directed in a positive way, they can grow up to be wonderfully productive.
As I learn to take authority and motivate Peyton to move forward and work, I can then focus on positively directing and controlling his energy. He has the potential to become a productive horse. As I worked with Peyton in the round pen recently, I discovered that when I showed him I was serious about moving him forward, he would go for me. He actually is fast and has nice movement. Previously, I was acting passive with him and letting him be lazy. I just assumed he was an airhead. But the problem was with me, not him. I wasn't doing what it takes to motivate him.
It has made me think a lot about myself. I do the same thing; it is my nature to get by with the least amount of work or challenge possible. If I don't feel like doing something, I won't, unless someone drives me to do it. I can be motivated by reward. Or I might make myself do it out of a sense of duty or responsibility or because I know it's the right thing. But I'm not giving it my whole heart. And unlike me working with Peyton, God is never passive when He acts in my life and asks me to do things. There is no problem with my Motivator, but the problem is in my heart. As Christians, we know that we are created to live for God and His pleasure. We know that He wants us to put our whole heart into whatever we do. But in our human nature, this is impossible. As the above verse indicates, we are prone to perform better for other people who are watching than we are for God, who we cannot see. And we can fool people into believing we are giving our best when we're not. We can't fool God. He sees every motive and hidden agenda in our heart. "for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7
So how do we remedy this? To be honest, I have no wisdom to share; I've been struggling with a serious lack of motivation lately. Do any of us ever want to do the hard thing? Or would we have to admit we are dead-set on our personal comfort and convenience? I think the heart attitude to step up to the challenges and difficulties God brings our way can only come as we ask God to fill us with His Spirit. It is going to take a supernatural drive to empower us to exchange our will for God's will. That is why He sent the Holy Spirit to be His own life dwelling in us!
Philippians 2:12-13 says, "Therefore my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure."
This Scripture implies that we have a part in choosing to obey God and walking out His will in our daily life. The good news is that God's Spirit within us is the power behind our will and our action. He gives us the want-to!
In closing, my encouragement to you is this: instead of focusing on your lack of motivation and spiritual power, ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit. Focus on the truth that God delights in taking ordinary men and women who are entangled in self-interest and filling them with His power to do impossible things. We can read about it in the Bible; we can read about how He's done it throughout history. He wants to do it again. Today. In me and in you. We have to get serious about asking. He has promised that those who ask will receive.
"So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?" from Luke 11