So what motivated you to click the link to my blog post? Perhaps you’d like to learn a new perspective or confirm your own understanding. Maybe you like me and want to know more about me. Maybe you don’t like me and you clicked the link to find something to validate the annoyance you feel.  Maybe you’re doing a study on motives, or perhaps passing time by clicking random links that come across your newsfeed. Can you recognize your motives?

It seems our motives can occur without thought, as if they are “innate”. I found an interesting article referencing several motive types, which explains this—and other things. It says that motives fall into 3 categories: Biological, Social and Personal. It associates the innate kind with the biological category. Though I’m fascinated with all things biological, my blog intends to emphasize motives that fall into the social and personal categories. I found other opinions on motives that define them as self-serving and negative. While I can appreciate this opinion and even agree in many cases, I have a personal understanding that motives are primarily positive or negative in nature. It’s how we chose to act upon motive that determines whether they produce negativity and self serve.

What I think is most important to know about motives, is the motive behind every action we take, before we act. Doing so grants the opportunity to create a positive outcome that serves the greater good in any given situation—if you choose it. Motives often come without recognition, even in the social and personal sense. I believe these motives are dictated by the circumstances in our lives, born from thoughts of things we want, need, hope for. These three often group to form a need to control. (That’s a story for a future blog). I found an article that conveys a similar message in how “understanding motive is one step toward intentional accomplishment,” but defines mostly a need to be happy as the cause of motive. I agree that happiness is a factor, but I can’t agree that the need for happiness is always behind our motives. They may start out that way, but accumulate and resonate other opposing factors when happiness is not achieved or not pure in heart. Do you treat people a certain way in order to control them? Do you treat people a certain way so that you can stay one step ahead? Do you treat people a certain way so that you stay included? Do you treat someone a certain way as to gain something in a way that you wouldn’t treat anyone else otherwise? Do you put others down to pick yourself up? Do others ever do this to you? Are you aware of when you are doing it? Do you manipulate others to prove a wrong so that you can feel right? You are probably aware of when all of these are being done to you. How does it feel? If you do act in any of these ways, can you search your motive behind the action and understand why you do it? Does it tie back to a need to be happy? It’s likely that many of us can tie it back to this need, but maybe some of us can tie it back to a fact the we are “unhappy” within our own skin, within our own lives. Does this negative root from the need to be happy? Quite possibly 🙂

If we can learn to check our motives before we take action, we have the opportunity to direct a positive or negative result for the greater good, including self. Knowing or desiring what is best for the greater good as well as self, can be a great challenge for many. For Christian’s, the answers and direction is found in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And while we can’t do what Christ did, we can follow His lead when it comes to checking our motives, and act as He would have us do, which always points to the greater good, including self.

Consider character and how you function socially, professionally and personally. Consider your desires, dreams and fears. All of these things affect our character example in social, professional and personal settings. Motives reflect the core reason for why we do what we do. Our motives have power. They “motivate” our actions. Motives are also defined as “hidden agendas” but they are not so hidden in that they cannot be discovered, perceived or judged by others. Consider the legal definition for motive, and the power it has among the court as a critical deciding factor in one’s guilt associated with a crime. If we learn to check our motives as a critical deciding factor in how we act socially, professionally and personally, we can achieve positive, victorious results. There are many cases where motives are born from extreme and desperate situations. Those situations are often mitigating factors when the action results in a negative, such as crime. Motives that are less extreme though still born from negative emotions, might spawn from fear, jealousy, feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, a need to belong, need for acknowledgement, etc., all of which can result in motives that work against us and others.

You may have said or heard some say that “we can’t help how we feel.” I believe this depends highly on what causes us to feel. (Again, this is largely based on actions of others or our perception of others.) So I like to employ the rest of that saying which goes like this: “but we can help what we do about how we feel.”  This is what I mean by checking our motives before we act. Our motives tell us the truth about ourselves. They are a measure of where we’re at biologically, socially and personally in a particular moment in time. As long as we live in the flesh, we will have “needs” that may cause us to discard the good of others and self-serve our needs.

To help me in these moments I refer to Proverbs 16:1-2 (NIV) which says:

“To humans belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue. All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord”

…and Phil 4:6-8 (NIV) which says:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Checking our motives before we act, can make all the difference in the world in a positive, prosperous result, for the greater good, and self… YOU!


Brandee Nielsen-Smith