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.”
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?