Don’t Do It To Prove Them Wrong

Over the years, I’ve heard something offered occasionally that I think is a terrible motivation for living life and making choices for yourself or your family, and it is this:

“You get out there and show ’em. Do it well and prove them wrong.” 

Don't Do It to Prove Them Wrong // Wrong Motivations for Convictions & Choices // jessconnell.com

It can play out in a wide variety of ways in our lives as women:

  • Don’t strive for perfection as a homeschool mom to prove them wrong and shut up the naysayers.
  • Don’t choose public school for your kids because you’re in a community of homeschoolers or private schoolers and you want to prove a point that Christians should be “salt and light” in this particular way.
  • Don’t decide to lose weight because you’ve always been the chubby girl and want to prove to your family that you can be thin.
  • Don’t choose to go to college because you want to prove you can.
  • Don’t choose NOT to go to college because you want to prove that’s not the only way to get a job nowadays.
  • Don’t have a home birth because you’re a doula and want to show everyone how wrong they are to choose to birth in a hospital.
  • Don’t choose, or opt out of, certain discipline & parenting methods because you want to prove other people wrong, or to “show” them.
  • Don’t become an adoptive or foster parent because there’s a fire in your belly to show that biology isn’t the only way to have children.
  • Don’t embrace a quiverful mindset as a pendulum-swing reaction against a 2-child-or-less culture around you.
  • Don’t get & keep a job because you’re sick of the stay-home-mom mindset among Christians & you want to prove something about the role of women.

Now, I hope that this would never be a sole reason why anyone would do something, although if you’re very stubborn and have an “I’ll show you!” attitude about life, I suppose it *could* be that way. But I do believe that these sorts of things are sometimes a reason why some people do what they do.

IS THIS ONE OF YOUR REASONS FOR DOING WHAT YOU DO?

Let me challenge you, friend: look deep inside and determine if this is something that drives you. Can I encourage you? —> Don’t even let that be a secret, mild motivation in your heart.

Whatever your convictions and choices are, don’t do it “to prove them wrong.”

Whether “them” is:

  • your parents
  • your siblings
  • your extended family
  • your friends/neighbors
  • people who disagree with you
  • someone else whose opinion ranks (too?) highly in your heart

Don’t do it to prove them wrong, to convince them to do it too, or to “show” them how it can be. Even if it’s not a primary motivation for you, but only a second- or third-tier reason why you keep putting one foot in front of the other, this is not a reason to do anything. Even if it’s just the quiet whispers of your heart when you are at your lowest, don’t listen to counsel that would tell you things like:

  • If I try it that way, it will just prove them right.
  • I can muscle through this home birth to show her that hospitals aren’t best.
  • I’ve got to keep homeschooling, or else the relatives will all say, “We told you so.”
  • If I pull him out and start homeschooling him, she’ll think I’m giving in.
  • If I stop/start co-sleeping, my mother-in-law wins.

 

THE WORST KIND OF MOTIVATION

No! It is the worst kind of motivation:

  • It is rooted in pride.
  • It feeds a heart motive of looking good (even if only on the outside).
  • It cultivates a desire to “be right,” rather than to please God and love others .
  • It increases a heart of judgment and proving others wrong, rather than being God’s agent of grace and reconciliation.

It is a worldly motivation. It’s one we sometimes learned in Little League (“They’ve said we can’t win this game; let’s get out there on the field and prove ’em wrong!”) or in school (“That snippy do-gooder thinks she’ll get the lead spot in the play. Stick it to her; knock this audition out of the park!”).

 

WHAT SHOULD I DO INSTEAD?

Instead of letting that be a motivation, have positive, biblical reasons for the things that you do. As believers, we are to live according to a higher standard:

  • Do what you do because it is right.
  • Do it because you are “fully convinced in your own mind” (Romans 14).
  • Do it because you are constrained by conviction.
  • Do it because you can not in good conscience make a different decision, and this is what you can do in faith. (also Romans 14– whatever is not in faith is sin)
  • Do it because you and your husband have agreement and peace about it.
  • Do it because it is the right thing for you, your family, and/or your child.
  • If the Bible is clear about it, do it because you desire to obey God.

And if you hit a down spot, instead of fueling pride in your heart by thoughts of “proving yourself” to others:

  • Remind yourself what Scripture says about the topic.
  • Read encouraging literature that reignites your passion & motivation.
  • Talk with friends who are also “fully convinced” on the issue, and purposefully glean wisdom and encouragement.
  • Pray and ask God for strength, wisdom, and whatever you need to keep going.

Scripture continually challenges us to live in the light, and walk in the light. So, hold your convictions up to the light. Hold your motivations up to the light.

Instead of leaning on fleshly reasons, motivate yourself in godly ways. Do not let your heart fall prey to lesser motivations. Put off worldly thinking, and embrace a better, higher, purer set of motivations.

 

IN THE COMMENTS, SHARE:

  • Have you heard these whispers in the quiet corners of your heart?
  • On convictional/choice issues, do you sometimes fall prey to these lesser motivations?

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Jess Connell

Jesus-follower, Happy wife, Mom of 8 neat people. Former world-traveler, now settled in Washington. Host of Mom On Purpose podcast (momonpurpose.com). I write and wrangle kids.

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7 Responses

  1. Emily says:

    Wow. I haven’t been able to give voice to these motivations, but I suppose they do exist! Less than a year ago (after a long season of heart change), my husband and I prayerfully decided to pursue a large biological family. On the front end, our motivations were not to ‘prove’ anything to anyone. We genuinely realized we both desired a large family and felt peace / conviction about it. After seeking counsel and praying, we were in agreement and at peace. At the moment we have 3 under 3 and are approaching #4 in the summer. Now we are in the ‘thick’ of our decision, and are being met with questions, assumptions, and challenges. It can feel easy to doubt what we so assuredly decided not even a year ago. When I look into the future and imagine our vision for our family, I still feel at peace having as many children as God wills until we prayerfully feel that season of childbearing is over. But in the midst of it, this task seems too hard. I find myself searching for biblical motivations, but it’s hard because it’s a choice and full of Christian freedom. This is where my “I need to prove it to people” motivations come into play…when I start to doubt God’s plan for our family. So my question is, how can we maintain firm convictions about issues that are based in gospel freedom? How can we not give way to the trials and suffering when we are in the midst of doing that which God calls us to do? How can we avoid this temptation to just stick to our guns for the sake of not looking like a failure? I want to hold fast to our plan for our family for the right reasons…but sometimes I have a hard time stacking them up after a difficult day with toddlers.

    • Jess Connell says:

      Emily,
      Thank you for your honesty… I think it is easy for us to let these kinds of motivations sneak into our “whys,” but it’s why I’ve in my own heart had to continually point myself back to the Word.

      On the issue you bring up, here are some things that have helped me fuel my heart with the right sort of motivations:
      * What does God’s word say about children?
      * What does my husband say about our childbearing?
      * Am I operating, as much as possible, out of a heart desire to please God and live right before Him, not in an attitude of earning righteousness, but out of a heart that desires to HEAR and FOLLOW my Good Shepherd?
      * Am I viewing our children through the lens of eternity… investing in them? Considering ways to and nurture them in God’s ways? Loving them as I should? Being faithful to discipline them like I should?

      Basically, I try to “keep my eyes on my own paper”… do you remember that saying from school?

      I don’t want to look too closely at what Suzie-small-family-mom is doing/saying, or what Linda-large-family-mom is doing/saying. I don’t want my convictions to be fueled by things outside of God’s Word & the authorities and wisdom-speakers He’s placed in my life. So if Suzie or Linda says something that particularly resonates or supports what God is already doing or saying in my life, then I’ll embrace and listen to that… but I can’t let someone else’s GREAT job, or CRAPPY job, at motherhood be what motivates me. I can’t let someone else’s stricter convictions, or someone else’s less strict convictions be what fuels my days. Know what I mean?

      Those things might sharpen or clarify why I’m doing what I’m doing, in minor mid-course adjustment sort of ways, where Doug & I talk it through and come to a place of rest about a question that plagues us or a concern that’s raised in a new way, but it can’t be the foundation for why we do what we do.

      As far as facing trials, those are the times when I’ve found the sweetest fuel & food for my soul from the Word. I wish I could say I was as faithful and purposeful to mine God’s Word for preciousness in the “easy” times… but in those hard times and suffering, I’ve pored over passages like James, 1 Peter, Job, the Psalms, Lamentations, and more, prizing God’s faithfulness so very highly…

      For me, too, especially in the early years, I found that I had to have God’s Word right in front of my face. Lots of index cards taped by light switches & over the stove. Fruits of the Spirit stapled to the ceiling. Verses doodled on a variety of surfaces… all keeping God’s Word and motivations in front of me OFTEN. Reminding me to “make the best use of the time because the days are evil” (Eph 5:16) and “if any of you lacks wisdom let him ask God who gives generously to all without reproach and it will be given him” (James 1:5) and “do not grow weary in well doing for at the right time, you will reap a harvest if you do not give up” (Gal 6:9) and more.

      One of the things I love about Romans 14… and I love so many things about it… but one of the things I love is that it tells us “each one should be fully convinced”… and this is what allows for peace in relationships in the Body. Ironically, right? But truly, by each of us coming to a place where we are no longer churning and needing to seek other people’s affirmation or feel badly about other people’s disagreement… THAT is the place when we have finally come to a conviction about something. We are at rest. We are no longer churning and anxious and stressed and worried about what people are thinking and wondering if they’re judging us, nor are we sitting around judging them, churning over THEIR choices, worried, stressed about everything they’re doing.

      Instead, I believe the picture of Romans 14 is that we’re fully convinced in our ability to do or not do that thing that is a gray area conviction, we’re standing in the light of our Savior, we’re able to walk in peace and love our brother more than our rules. We don’t have to flaunt our freedom or brag about our strictness. We just get to live life at peace, and allow others to do so as well… all of us fully convinced, even if (like the examples in Romans 14) we’ve come to completely opposite points of view. And all the while our love is covering those differences and enabling us to serve one another, rather than viciously attack and despise one another (whether on the inside or on the outside).

      Wow, that was just a soapbox, wasn’t it?

      Anyway, for me that is the place where God has brought me, scripturally and convictionally, in regard to all of this about family size. I can live it and be at peace and still hang with the gal who’s had two and thinks their done, and be friends with the mom of twelve who feels convicted never to use any birth control ever, and love them both and not be churning on the inside when I’m around either one.

      Does that all sound too ethereal and philosophical or does that answer some of what you were asking?

  2. Emily says:

    Thank you, Jess. It is truly humbling and amazing to me the way you are ministering to women through this blog. This requires so much investment from you, but these answers are truly helpful and encouraging. There are very few women I interact with that affirm gospel freedom and the intentional pursuit of holiness. I so appreciate your willingness to challenge women to obey God’s word, while pouring out the truth of God’s grace.

    “For me, too, especially in the early years, I found that I had to have God’s Word right in front of my face.” —–Ahhhh…I need that reminder. It would be enormously helpful to have some really solid promises and reminders posted everywhere. I have some, and I do lean on God’s word in the morning…but it’s never enough! I need that food all day long. In fact, just the other day I genuinely poured out my heart and needs before the Lord and he gave me the most tremendous energy. At 9:00pm I was still folding laundry and feeling great, when most nights I’m begging to go to bed. It was such a tangible reminder that God wants to equip me and give me the grace to complete tasks to his glory when I come surrendered and desperate in prayer.

    “But truly, by each of us coming to a place where we are no longer churning and needing to seek other people’s affirmation or feel badly about other people’s disagreement… THAT is the place when we have finally come to a conviction about something. ” ——- Yes, that is the place I want to come to! I would love to meditate on Romans 14 in the coming weeks, and ask for this peace. As I think you pointed out, it’s only when I feel challenged or ‘different’ from others that I begin to doubt our convictions. This is very distressing for me, and this is one of the first times I’ve realized how much I fear man. I don’t want my friends and family to think we are being irresponsible or are asking for too much help. I feel like I have to walk on egg shells, and not say anything like “I’m exhausted” because the next question I fear is…”And you want to have more kids?” I loved your blog post on this topic, and am working on formulating a better response in those moments, but right now my heart still feels very defeated by those statements. I truly look forward to a day when I feel completely at peace with my convictions, and can live joyfully alongside mothers who make all different choices about family size / birth control. Thankfully, my husband is fully convicted and is not at all phased by the comments of others. He has such a healthy perspective on it, and loves the fact that we are having more children. It brings him tremendous joy, and he is excited to have me on board. So I want to follow his lead and stop worrying about what other people think, as long as we are sure this is what God has called our family to…which I think begins with rooting myself in God’s word and maybe praying against my need to be ‘affirmed’ by my friends.

    Thank you again for these helpful responses! This blog has been such a source of help and encouragement. I can think of many changes I’ve made in my mothering over the last month or more of exploring / reading your blog to better reflect what I believe the bible teaches. There just is VERY little practical help out there…lots of good ‘gospel truth’, but not much ‘here is how it applies if you want your children to love and respect others’. Sometimes I just need to hear, “Hey, you are the authority in your child’s life, and it’s your job to teach them to obey.” Keep writing!

  3. Andrea Studt says:

    you said,
    One of the things I love about Romans 14… and I love so many things about it… but one of the things I love is that it tells us “each one should be fully convinced”… and this is what allows for peace in relationships in the Body. Ironically, right? But truly, by each of us coming to a place where we are no longer churning and needing to seek other people’s affirmation or feel badly about other people’s disagreement… THAT is the place when we have finally come to a conviction about something. We are at rest. We are no longer churning and anxious and stressed and worried about what people are thinking and wondering if they’re judging us, nor are we sitting around judging them, churning over THEIR choices, worried, stressed about everything they’re doing.

    YES!

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