What are My True Motives?

Our empty nests will be much more cozy if the spirits who live in them are of a generous nature. In the post, Out of Balance, I shared how I stumbled upon the book, Women of a Generous Spirit by Lois Mowday Rabey. A series has been born and this is chapter 2. The first chapter was about life giving women.  We will search out our true motives in becoming generous women in this one. As in the previous chapter, there are questions to answer, and I will be brutally honest with my answers. It is my hope that this series of exercises will lead me and whoever needs it, to become a more generous woman. What better time to discuss generosity with my friends than during Christmas?

Front Porch Christmas Decor

Lois points us in the right direction to become women of a generous spirit with this:

“As I have talked with women, I’ve identified some common counterfeit motivations. If we want to become women of a generous spirit, we need to evaluate our motivations and exchange the counterfeit ones with life-giving ones.”

The counterfeit motivations are listed as follows:

  1. Giving to be blessed. “Giving in order to be filled. Our giving is self-focused, not God-focused.”
  2. Giving to please others. When we give to please others, their response to our giving is at the center of our motivation.
  3. Giving to accomplish our own agendas. “Manipulating circumstances to control the outcome of our giving is the motivation behind this. Often we give little in this situation and lose the desire to be generous women.”

Christmas Porch Decor

The author gives us 3 examples to demonstrate each of the misguided motivations above.

  • Liz was living by a formula. She believed that “living the perfect Christian life” would bring her God’s acceptance, resulting in “the abundant life.” She gave to be blessed.
  • Nan volunteered to teach Sunday School in order to receive accolades and recognition from her peers. Disappointment was her reward. She gave to please others, but realized that unmet expectations resulted in emptiness.
  • Scarlett O’Hara from the movie, Gone with the Wind, was her third example. We see her throughout the movie manipulating circumstances “to control the outcome of personal encounters.”

Outdoor Christmas Decor

The questions that followed this chapter:

1. Which of the women in the chapter resemble you? Explain. (There may be more than one.)

I most relate to Liz. For most of my young adult life, I believed that if I “lived” the Christian life, then I would please God. I can honestly say now, that it was really more of the Christian ideals that I worshipped, instead of Christ who made the word “Christian” possible. I was more of a “religionian”. Once Doris Slappy introduced me to the Life-Giver, my focus turned and I became a new creation. I found it to be true that there is a difference between religion and relationship.

2. Write a paragraph that describes your primary motivation for giving. Your motivation may be one that isn’t listed here.

While I relate most to Liz, I can also say that some of my giving is to please others. I don’t think that is all bad, though. Yes, Lois says that when we give to please others that our motivation is their praise; but there are also times of pure joy just because I’ve made someone happy. Seeing the smile on another’s face because they are pleased with something I’ve done or a gift I’ve given, gives me a great sense of satisfaction. I don’t believe that God frowns on that, especially if He is the One who motivated me to give in the first place.

3. How do you feel when you give and are unappreciated? How do you respond to the person who has been unappreciative?

I gave extravagantly for many years to a friendship that I believed was one that blessed both of us. In one disappointing encounter, I discovered that our friendship was conditional. An incorrect perception ended a long relationship. I have never felt more under appreciated in my life. All the years of friendship, giving, forgiving, laughing, and crying came to a screeching halt. After years of distance, we are talking again, but I remain cautious and protective of my heart. So, I guess the best answer is that I withhold my giving.

4. Think about a time in your life when you felt real gratitude. Write about how that sense of gratitude motivated you. Did you feel energized, eager to give, and eager to express your feelings?

My mother in love, has given me opportunities to feel real gratitude on so many occasions that I can’t name them all. She is a totally selfless woman. On numerous occasions she has taken vacation days from work to sit with my children or has spent the wee hours of the morning holding my children’s heads while they were sick and we were out of town. She would call and ask for them to spend the weekend with her so her son and I could have time to ourselves. We never had to ask, but every time we did, the answer was yes. Right after my son was born, she called one day to find me in tears with post-partum depression. She came that night, took off work the next two-three days and allowed me to sleep the next couple of nights because she knew I needed the rest. I’ve never forgotten it. I even wrote about it in the post, Starting Over with a Newborn.

I know without a doubt what her motivation was. It was to be helpful, pure and simple. And, it didn’t hurt that she got to spend some time with her favorite grandson. Hehehe.

Which of these women do you relate to most? Do you have a special memory of gratitude?

Christmas Mailbox

I want to celebrate the season with a generous heart. It is the season of giving.

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10 thoughts on “What are My True Motives?

  1. Hi Kim,
    Like you, I used to feel like I had to earn God’s love although my Daddy was a preacher and taught it is not through works but God’s mercy and grace….guess I didn’t listen very well! Anyway, now I love to give to others and help others to be an example of Jesus and how accepting He is of everyone. My problem is it is embarrassing when I give to others and they just go on and on about it – it makes me feel like they think I want their praise when they are probably just trying to thank me. And like you, I just like to make people happy. It warms my heart when I make someone else feel good about themselves. And I love random acts of kindness to strangers. One of my favorite verses is Hebrews 13:2 “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unaware”.
    <3 Becky

  2. Good thought-provoking article. It never hurts to do an in-depth self-analysis, even if we don’t like what we find out about ourselves. Thank you for the kind words. If I ever helped at all, I am grateful for that, but, you know, I am the one who was really helped because I got to make so many wonderful memories. Thank you for letting me have those, and thank you for all you have done and do to make my life so much better.

  3. Great questions today, Kim. I cannot relate to any of the women described, but I will definitely meditate on today’s questions.
    My motivation for giving is His grace. Grace in me makes it irresistible; the joy produced makes it addictive.

  4. Being a person who is not of any religion, I have a different belief as to the idea of what “giving to be blessed” means. I believe that giving of ones’ positive energy is a gift that keeps giving and returns in abundance. I don’t see that as being selfish, but rather as being a benefit to humanity in general. I happened to find a post that describes this idea pretty simply:
    I think you’re very brave putting yourself out there and answering these questions so honestly with your readers. I too suffered from post partum depression, but I had no family to help me cope except for my husband. At that time though, I had a UPS man named Tommy who came for pickups every day and he would always ask how the baby was doing. Then, as he’d leave with my packages, he’d say to me “You’re doing a great job.” He died very suddenly one day and I went to his funeral. Many people stood up and told stories of how he helped them in different ways. I wanted so much to tell my story but I was in the back of the church sobbing so hard, I couldn’t speak. His simple and kind words each day meant so much to me that I am crying all over my keyboard as I write this. Kim, I’m sure if God could speak to you each day, He’d say “You’re doing a great job.”

    1. Lorraine, you and I are kindred spirits. I, too, believe that it isn’t about religion, but relationship. It’s not a checklist, where one can mark off the “good” things they’ve done for the day or week. It IS an “energy” like you and your link express. I do believe though, that energy has to come from somewhere and I choose to believe it comes from the Holy Spirit of Christ. My own life is proof to ME that this is true. When I am in fellowship with HIM, I am “smoother around the edges” as this book, suggests, and when I’m not… Well, I’m certainly not feeling like I’m made in HIS image.

      I also believe that it is the kind souls like your UPS man, that God uses in mysterious ways to comfort His creation. Remind me to tell you the story of my “angel on the freeway” sometime. Mine wasn’t a UPS man, but a college security officer.

      And Lorraine, I so treasure our friendship. You’re doing a great job!!!

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