“The secret of life is to have a task, something you devote your entire life to, something you bring everything to, every minute of the day for your whole life. And the most important thing is – it must be something you cannot possibly do.” Henry Moore
Motivation is the desire to do things. We often do things we do not desire. That is not motivation. If we get up early in the morning on a beautiful day, it is enjoyment. If get up early in the morning to earn a living, that is obligation. But if we get up early in the morning to chase a dream, that is motivation.
To get motivated we need a dream, a vision: be it a cause, an ideology or something we believe in – and that must be bigger than ourselves. As the quote above says: “it must be something you cannot possibly do.”
Motivation can be extrinsic or intrinsic.
Extrinsic motivation originates from without, from outside of us. We love being motivated, we flock to motivational seminars to listen to motivational speakers and get inspired. Our spirit is lifted high to a state of euphoric in a spur of moment. We crave reading motivational books, quotes of the day, inspirational articles just to get pepped up for a time.
There are tangible and intangible extrinsic motivation:
Tangible Extrinsic motivation: money, many forms of rewards, perks, scores, etc.
Intangible Extrinsic motivation: desire to get approval, fear of punishment, etc.
While in itself extrinsic motivation is stimulating, it cannot stand the test of time. It relies heavily on circumstances. In severe cases extrinsic motivation can become addiction, constant craving of stimulants like going to seminars, getting approval, love of money, etc.
Intrinsic motivation comes from within, from inner-self. It does not depend on circumstances, it sees beyond what can be seen, it goes deep within our souls, penetrates our very own beings. Basically intrinsic motivation is internalisation of extrinsic one, for example a child who lost a parent due to illness has the motivation to become a doctor. He sees the suffering, gets motivated by it and internalises the motivation to become his own.
Intrinsic motivation will move us to do things day in day out, in season or out of season, with reward or none, whether people approve or reject. This quiet persistent voice within keeps us moving forward step by step, inch by inch. Nothing dramatic, just steadfast nagging of the soul which refuses to be hushed. It compels us to do something, something big, bigger than ourselves.
Extrinsic and intrinsic motivation can be good or bad. Getting approval from his peer motivates a teenager to do drugs, that is bad extrinsic motivation. A good score often motivates students to study hard, that is good extrinsic motivation. While extrinsic motivation does not penetrate deep within human soul, intrinsic one will get the job done. This job can be a blessing or a curse. Extremist like terrorist is one example of bad intrinsic motivation.
Our motivation should come from the Lord Jesus Christ, who so loves the world that He dies for our sin, therefore we who believe will live eternally. This realisation of the redemption alone should motivate us enough to do His will. We need to internalise His love to us and to the lost world, thereby we will have this intrinsic motivation to do the task He assigned us on this earth. A motivation deeply rooted within our souls, which will stand the test of time, which will move us constantly regardless of events.
As Paul succinctly writes in the book of Acts chapter 20:24
“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus given me – the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace”
May this too become our own motivation as we profess our love to Jesus Christ!
Author – Alicia Tani