For more than a century, psychologists have tried to figure out why some people are more motivated than others.
Frederick Winslow Taylor began studying this topic in the late 1800s and concluded the major factor in motivation was money. Years later, Elton Mayo found people were motivated by whether or not their bosses watched them work. A few years after that, Abraham Maslow connected motivation to our core needs. More recently, studies point to dopamine levels in the brain as a contributing factor.
There may be many factors in a person's motivation levels, but I can give you one that overrides all others. When you understand what Jesus Christ has done for you, what he can do for you, what He offers you, the riches available to you, and the plans and expectations he has for you, you've found the greatest single motivation for diligent living the world will ever know.
Let me show you how important diligence was to Peter. He devoted nine verses in this passage (2 Peter 1:3–11) to the subject of living a godly life, and twice he exhorted his readers to be diligent. He was reminding Christians of our sacred obligation to maximize the resources God has given us.
- Verse 5 says, "But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith."
- Verse 10 says, "Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble."
God has given us everything we need through his very great and precious promises so we can live a truly godly life. For this very reason, we must diligently use the available resources and do our part. We must diligently acquire the special components of our faith Peter was about to identify for us. And we must be even more diligent to make our calling and election sure.
This is the very same message Paul employed to challenge and motivate the Philippians to an active pursuit of holiness in their lives: "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure" (Phil. 2:12–13).
Peter and Paul had the same philosophy: God has given us everything we need, but that's no excuse for being lazy and passive in the Christian experience. We're to take what God has produced in us and work it out in our everyday lives. We're to take the promises God has given us and diligently apply them. And this is serious business. We're to do it with fear and trembling.
After professional driver Will Power—yes, that's his name, William Steven Power, but he appropriately goes by Will Power—won the Indianapolis 500, he told a reporter, "I'm really enjoying my racing. I've never been so motivated. I'm fitter than I've ever been, mentally on the game. I think once you get to this part of your career, you realize that you're not going to be doing this forever. So you've got to enjoy it and you've got to go for it when you've got it, because, you know, probably only another five years at maximum, and you're retired."
Why don't you take those words and paraphrase them like this: "I'm really enjoying my Christian race. I've never been so motivated. I'm fitter than I've ever been in godliness and goodness, and I'm excited to know I'll be doing this forever. I'm going to enjoy it and go for it because forever and ever I'll be loving God and living for him. I'm going to do it passionately from the start, diligently. With his help, I'm determined to be full of godly willpower."
This is an adaptation from Dr. Jeremiah's upcoming book, Everything You Need.
Dr. David Jeremiah is among the best known Christian leaders in the world. He serves as senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California and is the founder and host of Turning Point. Turning Point's 30-minute radio program is heard on more than 2,200 radio stations daily. A New York Times bestselling author and Gold Medallion winner, he has written more than fifty books.