People who willingly make major positive changes in their lives share one thing in common. They have tapped into the power of motivation.
From personal experience, observation of other people’s lives and my study of scriptures I have come to this conclusion. Most defining changes in people lives can be attributed to one or more of three powerful motivations. Those motivations are love, truth and pain. They provide the primary tipping points for life change.
Three of the most radical changes in my life can each be attributed to one of these three motivations. Giving up a carefree single life to pursue the heart of my now wife of forty years was motivated by love – a love that began with a first sight meeting at the top of a stairs. Surrendering my life and future to the Lordship of Jesus Christ was motivated by truth that I discovered in studying the Bible – revealing that He was indeed the Son of God. And moving on to a new career would never have happened if I had not been so engulfed in the pain and frustration of a dead end job. Nothing motivates like being sick and tired of being sick and tired.
One of the great benefits of being a pastor is that over the years I have had the privilege of seeing God radically change the lives of many people. The before and after snapshots are stunning, particularly of those whose former selves were marked by addictions and destructive behavior. Interestingly enough, each person’s testimony almost always can be traced to an initial motivation to change and embrace Christ because of an encounter with God’s unfailing love, an undeniable truth or an unrelenting pain.
To test this theory, think about your own life and the significant changes you have made for the better. What brought you to a tipping point of change? What motivated you to take radical steps to give up the old in order to embrace the new?
The Gospels provide us many examples of how God uses love, truth and pain to motivate people to make major changes in their lives. Those who made a radical commitment to follow Jesus invariably did so because of a tipping point encounter with His love, His truth or His offer of freedom from their pain. Here are examples of how each motivation works.
1. Unfailing Love – A great example of the power of Christ unfailing love is the woman with the alabaster jar. She crashed a dinner party to wash the Savior’s feet with her tears and anoint them with her expensive perfume. Jesus was so taken with her devotion that he cites her love for Him as an exemplary motivation for such abandon. “For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” (Luke 7:47)
2. Undeniable Truth – Many of the early adapters to follow Jesus did so because they were truth seekers who had a revelation of who He really was. That was the case for the first three disciples to follow Jesus. They were John, Andrew and Simon Peter. John and Andrew in their quest for the Messiah were initially followers of John the Baptist. But when he pointed out to them that Jesus was the promised “Lamb of God” that truth so rocked their world that they immediately left John to follow Jesus. And armed with that truth they in turn went searching for Peter, a fellow seeker of truth, to share their new found revelation declaring “’We have found the Messiah’ that is the Christ.” (John 1:41) We know the rest of the story how all of them forsook everything, including their boats and nets to follow him.
3. Unrelenting Pain – Jesus himself points out this principle of conversion change in His telling of the story of the prodigal son. You have probably heard the saying people don’t see the light until they feel the heat. That was true of the prodigal. He needed to experience a life of pain wallowing with the pigs before he saw the light. “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!” (Luke 15:17) That was the motivation that caused him to repent and return to his father’s house.
Is God stirring your heart to make some changes? Which of these three motivations are at work in your life? Are you feeling the tug of something or someone whom you love? Are you seeing things in a different light? Is there pain in your life it’s time to find relief from? If so ask God to increase that motivation to move you to a tipping point of action.
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