There are lots of things that motivate us to do the things that we do. In the world of not-for-profit missions organizations, the motivations to do the work that we do can be as varied as the people that serve in the organization. This week, I had the joy of spending time with all of our team members in small group settings exploring that question and many others with the goal of understanding how we can grow and develop into an even more effective organization.
I am sure that CLC is not unique in attracting highly motivated and passionate people who want to see their lives make a difference. As the meetings progressed and we listened, asked questions and took notes, several themes began to take shape in the responses that we heard. Of all these themes that we uncovered, one seemed to stick out for me. In response to a question about whether or not a person felt rewarded for what they do in CLC, we heard a Biblical admonition stated in several different ways. The verse being quoted was from the book of Colossians and says,
23 whatsoever ye do, work heartily, as unto the Lord, and not unto men;
The clear implication of their responses was that while they enjoyed working for CLC, ultimately they were working for a higher purpose and that was pretty rewarding in itself. While it was gratifying to hear this response and realize once again what an amazing team of people I lead, it was also pretty convicting. How easy it is for me to seek earthly rewards when my heavenly father sometimes has a different plan in mind. Certainly, I am not saying that God does not want me to find anything in this life to be motivating or fulfilling, but how easy it is to get temporal and eternal motivations mixed up.
A few years ago I was serving customers in one of our stores and was feeling pretty good about what I was doing. Lots of books had come in the back door and were quickly being put on the shelf. Our team had been doing a great job of merchandizing and the customers were commenting about our attractive displays. As the manager, I had led a team meeting and gotten great input and feedback earlier that morning. Things seemed to be really humming along. While I did seem to be getting some strange body language from a few customers as I whizzed by them to deal with “important” issues in the store, nothing was going to slow me down. Then Gloria walked in.
She stopped in the middle of the store looking like she needed help. After taking care of all the other things I was working on, I made eye contact with her. She had been waiting patiently for several minutes and now asked if she could talk with me privately. Not looking forward to what could be a difficult customer interaction, I reluctantly said yes and we walked to the back of the store. She looked me in the eye and said, “You probably don’t remember me because I haven’t been here for a while.” She was right; I had no idea who she was. She went on to say that she just wanted to thank me. It was strange enough that someone I did not recognize wanted to chat with me at all, but now she was thanking me for something. She then told me that three years before, I had taken the time to pray with her about her cancer diagnosis. Following our time of prayer together, she had gone back to the doctor and she had now been cancer free for the last three years. As she finished talking, I could hardly speak. There were no words to accurately describe how I felt at that moment.
I am no faith healer and I did not even clearly remember that time of prayer, but I sure knew that God had done something miraculous in her life. How wonderful of our God to remind me of what really matters in the midst of the chaos of a busy day. Over the years, there have been many more of these instances of what I call “God moments” where He once again reminds me who is in charge and why I do what I do. Nothing is more motivating in life than surrendering your gifts and abilities to be used by the creator of the universe. He certainly is the best boss to work for even when the tasks he asks you to perform do not make sense and sometimes seem to be dangerous or even counterproductive. As I close this week, I am reminded of a great quote that I heard recently,
“If you would make the greatest success of your life, try to discover what God is doing in your time, and fling yourself into the accomplishment of His purpose and will.” from the book In the Day of His Power by Arthur Wallis