Motivation Vs. Transformation

Posted: July 26, 2010 in Life Change, My Faith

I listened to a message the other day by one of my favorite speakers Matt Chandler. The message was on the Sword and the Spirit and how we need both to live a victorious Christian life to fulfill the greatest commandment (loving God and loving people). He wasn’t necessarily talking about motivation or transformation but towards the end of his message he made a couple of statements that stuck out to me so I have thought and studied more on them the last few days and I decided to write down some things. First, here is the main statement from Matt that jumped out at me:

“If you’ve got any kind of church background whatsoever, you are painfully and consistently reminded of the power of the Word of God to transform and to move and to deliver. And instead of ransacking and seeking and studying and praying and fighting for the transformation, we have become lazy, lazy sad men and women who prefer motivation to transformation.”

It was a pretty bold statement that I sat on for a while because I had to decide if I thought the same thing. After reading some Scripture and studying a few passages I decided that I did agree with what Matt was saying and feel that instead of truly seeking God in our own personal lives, we just look for the next big thing to keep us moving in the “right direction.” Now I am definitely not saying that all Christians are like this, but it seems to be a very popular pattern that is taking place, especially here in the Bible belt. I think the biggest reason is that motivation is so much more attractive than transformation. Here are three examples of what I mean:

1. Motivation will prompt us, transformation overwhelms us.
The passage that kept coming to my mind when looking at this had to be Isaiah 6.
Here you have the prophet Isaiah, who most of us can agree was on the varsity level of his Christian faith, yet when he had a true encounter with the living God, he didn’t jump on the next plane to become a missionary to Africa, he saw himself for who he really was. In light of the only person He is allowed to compare. God. When he did, he was overwhelmed at how bad he really was. When we are truly transformed, we are gonna see ourselves for who we really are and that is not a good picture.
I love the end of his experience though. It was after he saw who he was and realized he had nothing to offer that he knew his only choice was to go. That’s when true motivation sets in. Chandler goes on to say “Motivation never brings about transformation, but if anything, transformation will always bring motivation.” Isaiah demonstrates that perfectly.

2. Motivation is short-term, transformation is life changing.
One of the most interesting stories found in the Bible to me is Acts 8.
In verse 9 we see a man named Simon who was very popular and knew how to draw a crowd with his magic and tricks. The interesting thing is when Philip came in and preached the gospel, lives were truly being changed and people where coming to Christ like crazy. When Simon saw this, it motivated him to share in the experience he saw the others were having and he wanted to even purchase the power to be able to heal and do the miracles of God. Peter saw right through this and called him out. A perfect example of someone getting caught up in the moment. As long as he could remain popular, he would do anything, but it was more about what would advance him, and not what God truly seeks after. I think we forget that many faithful men and women of God never got to see what they gave their whole lives for because God wanted to take them home. Read Hebrews 11.

3. Motivation is an outward response, transformation is an inward surrender.
I think a great example of this is the Apostle Paul. We could look at many passages that express this thought but one I have been looking over and praying over recently is I
Corinthians 9. In the verses 19-23 he shares what it looks like to lay down your own life and in may cases your culture to surrender for the cause. It’s what it looks like to take up our cross daily. All for the sake of the gospel. All for the sake of Christ. That’s surrender.

Of course the ultimate example of this would be of Jesus. “Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

Lord make us weary of being motivated but not transformed.

  1. Julie says:

    Great post. And I like your blog makeover!

  2. Heather says:

    Oh, wow, Dave. I totally agree with that. I know I’m guilty of looking for motivation rather than transformation. I think some part of me always wants to hold on to what I’ve got, wants to hold on to who I believe myself to be. And I’m worried that transformation will destroy that, or something.

    Of course, the opposite of that is true, and I remind myself of that.

    But really, really good post.

    You sound like a preacher or something … 🙂

  3. allergyfree says:

    Very good. I like your new layout, too.

  4. NanaDiana says:

    Happy Birthday-Your sister sent me over. You are a good writer…and it sounds like you are a fantastic brother! Wish I had a single daughter ;>)

    BTW-I read your Missy the cat story. I hope it is okay to share that with others. It is one of the funniest things I have read in a long time! Diana

  5. […] Motivation Vs. Transformation […]

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