Motivation. What drives us? What gets us going? And why?
Sometimes motive is evident: football teams are motived to win. In order to win, teams must score points. And to do so, teams need to work together. Having a superstar quarterback may be a huge asset, but other players factor into scoring points in order to win. Receivers, running backs, linemen, the center whose snap of the ball sets the play in motion. Each has a place and function. All are united by the same motivation: winning. Sure, there may be facets to that desire, such as making gobs of money or earning a spot in the Hall of Fame, but at the core, it’s all about the score.
Many of us engage in the annual ritual of making resolutions. Much of the success of sticking to these goals has to do with motivation. How committed are we? How much do we desire the benefit we hope to achieve? Can we keep the internal fire going day after day, week after week? And what does it say about us if we fizzle out sooner than we’d like? Are we losers altogether or do we need to be more realistic about our motivation?
Years ago I picked up a book because I like the title. I’ll be honest: I haven’t read it. But I still like the title: Church Is a Team Sport. Of course, I like sports so I like the title. But more importantly, I love the church and I hope for a “winning” experience of being part of the church for all who are. Just as a team needs many players working together with shared motivation, so a congregation needs the energies, vision, and commitment of its participants.
In two different letters to two different communities, Paul described the church in the same way: as a body. Parts connected but functioning differently. Parts working together for the good of the whole. Something like a sports team! In both Romans 12 and I Corinthians 12, Paul stresses how essential it is to the wellbeing of the body for everyone to be joined by a common motivation. He even spells it out: “God has put the body together… so that there won’t be division in the body and so the parts might have mutual concern for each other.” (I Corinthians 12:24-25). Could that help fuel our motivation in this new year?