As I read thru the discussion questions for this week I can see where I have gone thru so many different stages in this area. And, I continue to go thru them. While I would love to say that I always have motives that are pleasing to God, it simply is not true.
Here are the discussion questions and then I'll take you on a bit of my journey where motives are concerned....
What is the real underlying motive for all the good stuff that you do?
For example, Do you go to church to fulfill an obligation?
Do you get involved to get a reaction from someone; possibly pity, recognition or even money?
Do you volunteer in your child’s classroom to analyze the new teacher or is it to help?
Do you share prayer requests for a chance to gossip or because you truly care and are praying?
When I look at my motives for attending church over the years and being involved in various church activities, I see so many phases that I have gone through. It reminds me of the stages we go thru as we grow from infants to children to teenagers and then move into adulthood. Constantly maturing as we grow... developing stronger relationships.... learning as we go about what is truly important and is worthy of our focus.
As a child I always attended church. I would never have thought of doing anything different. I was raised in a Christian home and we attended church regularly. It was comfortable place for me with many friends and loved ones. However, as comfortable as it was and as normal as it was, I was there primarily because my parents took me. They saw to it that I was in church.
As I moved into my teen years, I was still always involved in church, but I remember this age as the first times that I didn't always want to be there. After a fun Saturday night out with friends, getting up early on Sunday morning to attend church wasn't always the priority for me that it should have been. Occassionally I had to miss out on other activities because of church services or church related activities. My motives for being at church was, many weeks, because that is where I was expected to be by my parents. I was involved in many youth activities, so while I willingly attended, it was more because I knew I would have fun with my friends. Oh, yea... and my high school boyfriend attended the same church. I'm sure that played into my motives, as well. :)
During college was the first time I would periodically skip a Sunday morning service. Nobody was there to make me go and it just seemed kind of grown up to be able to make the decision NOT to go (boy, did I have that backwards, huh?). Often I went because my friends were going or I felt a bit guilty because I knew my parents would want me in church.
Once out of college I attended the church my parents attended. I became actively involved in the singles sunday school class and over the next few years became a children's sunday school teacher, preschool children's choir teacher, and became a member on a couple of church committees. I think back to that time and I'm sure some of those were places where God wanted me to be, but I also know that alot of my decisions to accept those positions were more for one of two other reasons.... 1)my friends were involved, or 2)I could not, for the life of me, tell anyone 'No'.
In my late twenties, I moved out of state and was further away from my family that I had ever been. I was single, but was living in the same city with my boyfriend (who is now my hubby). The first year or so after I moved I went thru phases with my involvement in church. And, honestly, when I did attend it was more out of a feeling of responsiblity or guilt.
After Jeff and I were married, we did attend church. Although, for some time it was sporadic. However, after we had been married a year or two we found this great church in our area. It is here that we have made our church home. It is here that we are raising our children to love the Lord. It is here that I (and Jeff) have realized and refocused my motives.
I can honestly say for the first time in my life that I don't attend church because I fell guilty if I don't or because someone else expects me to be there or any of a thousand other reasons. I am there each Sunday morning because I WANT to be there and becuase I feel that is where the Lord wants me to be. And, on those rare occasions when I wake up on Sunday morning and just don't feel like getting out of bed, I am ALWAYS so glad that I did drag myself up and on to church. I leave renewed and refreshed... ready to go out and face the week ahead of me. Fully knowing that God is with me and I have spent a wonderful morning worshiping Him. A worship time that usually stays with me thru the week in my own personal Bible Study and praise times.
As I've shared all this, I realize I've written a longer post than I had intended. What I've wanted to communicate here is that, at least for me, realizing my true motives has been a journey. I have had to "grow up" in my physical maturity, in my mental maturity, and in my spiritual maturity to find my true motives and to begin making them "right" in my own life. I still miss the mark on many days, but I am growing and finding that as I seek the Lord more and more in my daily life, that my motives are becoming more in line with what and where the Lord would have them.