CHAPTER 34, IN WHICH VINCE ALMOST DOESN’T LEAD A RETREAT AND LIGHTNING BRINGS FLOWERS
Vince shared with us that he recently had a major realization about himself. As he was leading a church retreat, he realized that he was compulsively taking responsibility for every person’s experience—at the expense of his own experience and inner quiet. In this moment, it became clear to him how often he does this in every area of his life. This newly apparent truth is not the nice version of Vince’s why-I-became-a-pastor story. Lightning has had similar experiences throughout life of doing altruistic things for mixed motives. The danger when we realize how mixed our motives are, is to throw out the baby with the bathwater. For Vince, that would mean giving up his pastoral position because his motives are not fully pure. Vince was able to see, however, that both can be true: God has called him to this role…and…he (Vince) sometimes gets in the way of that calling.
As the guys talked, they realized that every person’s motives are mixed for everything s/he does. Having impure motives is a part of being human. The older we get, the more we realize that everything we’ve ever done has been for mixed motives. There are people who seem very aware of their mixed motives and as a result don’t serve or lead other people. There are also folks who are totally unaware of their motives. It seems like the middle road is the best one: to be attuned to my motives without obsessing over them or letting them prevent me from taking action. To ask “are my motives pure” seems like the wrong question.
In the bible, Paul writes this to the young church at Phillipi:
It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. (Phillipians 1:15-18)
Paul here says emphatically that God uses the outcomes of our actions to further his plan, regardless of our motives.
If you ever find yourself becoming aware of your mixed motives, here are a few suggestions:
Have a trusted friend pray with/for you. This will open up a great conversation with God about what you are learning about yourself. Also, tell a few people you trust what you are learning about yourself. In the same way, this will open up a great conversation with your community. Finally…sleep on it. The despair of self-realization in the evening often looks quite a bit more positive in the morning.
Lightning ended this week’s conversation with this quote from noted psychologist Carl Jung:
The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.
STUFF THAT IS WORTH CHECKING OUT
The church that Vince co-leads: Brown Line Vineyard