There are times when I’m serving out of pure joy and with good intentions. Hopefully, I can look back one day and say that was the trend of my life. However, I know my motives aren’t always pure. I don’t always serve with gladness.
Sometimes I want to be noticed and acknowledged. I want to hear, “Thanks,” or, “Good job.” I know that’s a common and natural desire, which isn’t always wrong to have. But it can become a limiting factor in my willingness to be a helper. What happens when I’m not acknowledged, thanked, or appreciated. Do I quit helping? Do I just sit idly by as things are left undone? Surely I’m called to something better, greater.
At other times I “serve” because I want a reason to be resentful. Internally, I can say, “Look at all I’ve done.” Or, “How could anyone else miss this?” Or, “Why am I the only one doing _______?” You get the idea. It gives me a reason to grumble in my heart, hold a grudge against another person, or justify a certain perception I have of that person.
Both of these attitudes are incredibly dangerous. They create footholds that damage my relationships instead of building them up. The desire to be acknowledged often grows out of insecurity in who I am and gives others the power to define my identity. Resentment is a breeding ground for anger and an unforgiving heart as I wage war in my mind with others. Though they may seem worlds apart, these two are actually opposite sides of the same coin – pride – because they’re really all about serving me, not others.
To gauge my motivations, I have to regularly ask myself some heart-probing questions.
- Why am I really doing __________?
- What am I hoping to gain from it?
- How will I respond if I don’t get the reaction I may think I deserve?
The way I answer those questions reveals how I relate to the world around me. Am I self-focused or others-focused?