I got an interesting response from my previous post on motivation and goals, and how they tend to devolve over time. I used myself as the example—and several very kind folks wanted to defend me. Thank you. I feel loved.
Essentially, I confessed that even when I begin with the right goal (knowing / following God, in this case), eventually my identity gets all caught up in whatever vehicle (external accountability, Bible reading schedule, “devotions”) I’ve chosen to use in order to reach the goal. When this happens, the original goal becomes secondary (at best), and I begin to judge my worth and success by how well I’m conforming to the particulars of the my chosen discipline—rather than by whether I ‘m actually learning to hear and know God better.
The consensus response was this:
That’s just how God made us. He created us to be relational. We weren’t meant to do this alone. We need each other. So we shouldn’t expect to consistently do the right thing for its own sake without some kind of accountability / motivation from other people.
There might be some truth there, and making use of accountability is an area where I could certainly stand to grow. But something doesn’t seem quite right with this explanation.
In my case, accountability provided the catalyst for getting right. That’s because I was wrong before. Am I fated to be driven by wrong motives unless I happen to be in the right kind of fellowship at the right time? How does that square with what the Bible has to say about grace and the empowering of the Holy Spirit? (Philippians 4:13 and 2 Cor. 6:1 immediately come to mind here.)
This post is purely reactionary and not at all what I intended to write for “part 2”. Next time I want to discuss some of the dangers inherent in replacing a primary goal with a secondary goal.
In the meantime, don’t be shy…tell me what you think about this stuff!