Monday, January 22, 2024

Finding Motivation for Family Competitions

Suggested Reading: Ecclesiastes 4:4-6, Matthew 6:25-33

In Cheaper by the Dozen 2, Steve Martin plays a father who takes his wife and 10 children on vacation, only to discover that an old rival is also vacationing at the lake with his own family. This other father is rich with a supermodel for a wife and children who all excel in both schooling and sports. Martin's character, driven by jealousy and a competitive desire to prove he is just as good a father, enters his family into a competition against his rival's family. His desire to prove his own worth pushes him to succeed but it also pushes his family away.

Solomon, the likely author of Ecclesiastes, knew something about this dynamic. He records, Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind (Ecclesiastes 4:4, NLT). Most of us tend to think we are above "jealousy" but we practice variations called insecurity and self-importance, using what we have accomplished and what we own as our measures. We believe are just as good, just as important, just as worthy as that person over there who has all of the things we think we deserve. We're not "jealous", it's just not fair that that person has what we deserve, especially when they themselves don't deserve it. And so we work to prove what we deserve - the recognition, the higher salary, the leisure time, the perfect family - never realizing that we are working so hard because we are jealous.

But we cannot allow ourselves to be motivated by the things we think we deserve or the desire to prove that we are just as good or worthy as someone else. As believers, our focus is to be building the kingdom of God and our motivation is to be gratitude toward a God who loved us enough to send His Son to save us. Jesus advised us, Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need (Matthew 6:33, NLT) because whenever our thoughts are focused on what we don't have or on what we think we deserve our focus is away from seeking the lost and making disciples. 

What things have you been focused on because you believe you deserve more? A better job? More time off? That new electronic gadget? A spouse who appreciates you more? Don't work so hard to get what you don't have or what you think you deserve. Focus on the Kingdom of God, and God will make sure you have everything you need.

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