When I do something good, am I motivated by fear, duty, or love? It makes a difference! Regardless of whether I am performing a service for someone else or for myself, the quality of the outcome is affected by my motivation.
Motivated by Fear
When fear is my motivation for doing good, it might be because I am afraid I will get in trouble or look bad to others if I don’t do it. For example, when someone is on probation, they may do all the right things because they are afraid of what will happen if they don’t. People who attend Church only to avoid giving the neighbors something to talk about are motivated by fear. Doing something good because I don’t want to disappoint someone I care about is another example. In any case, when I am motivated by fear, my heart is not in it. I most likely receive very little joy or blessing as a result of doing it.
Motivated by Duty
Being motivated by duty is a little bit higher on the motivation scale. When I am motivated by duty, I know it is the “right thing to do” and I am choosing to be obedient. Participating in a service project because “someone has to do it” is an example of this. It doesn’t contain quite as much of a negative undertone as being motivated by fear, but when I am motivated by duty I am still holding something back. Obedience is good. Doing the right thing is good. But again, I will not receive all the blessings of joy and satisfaction that are possible when I act out of duty.
Motivated by Love
The highest level of motivation is love or charity (“the pure love of Christ”). If I go serve at the nursing home because my heart goes out to the people there and I want to bring them joy and happiness, I am serving with love. If I go to Church and partake of the sacrament on Sunday because I love the Lord and want to renew my covenants with Him, I will look forward to it and be filled with the Spirit as I do it. If I put hours into my calling that no one will ever know about or see because I feel inspired to do so and it makes me happy, I am motivated by love.
Motivation in Working the Steps
When I work my 12 Step program, the same three levels of motivation apply. Which level I am on will determine how much I will get out of the work I am doing. If I attend meetings because I am mandated to do so by the court or study and write because I am afraid that if I stop I will relapse, that is better than nothing! If I do it because I know I am a child of God, I deserve to be free from my addictions, and I believe that if I work the program I will find sobriety, that is better. But if my 12 Step work is motivated by my love of the Lord, my gratitude for the Atonement He made for me, the joy I find in serving and a desire to become an instrument in His hands to help others find recovery, then I open myself up to receiving the full blessings He wants to bestow upon me.
“Consider whether your activity in the Church is still motivated by fear or duty or if it is a natural outgrowth of your reborn faith in Christ.” (A Guide to Addiction Recovery and Healing, p. 54.)
- What is your motivation for working the 12 Step program?
- Are you satisfied with your level of motivation and activity in the program?
- What will you do today to improve your motivation, activity, and progress?
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Related Posts: Love: The Economy of God