What is your motivation?

A Christian Science perspective: If our motives are in the right place, success follows.

What motivates you? It’s an important question because, if you think about it, anything we do that has beneficial value must come from the right place. Whether you’re a caregiver, classmate, parent, or co-worker, in order to make a positive difference in the world, we must begin with the right motive.

This newspaper has reported on countless examples of individuals and groups who acted for the benefit of others. The object of the Monitor is “to injure no man, but to bless all mankind” (Mary Baker Eddy, “The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 353), which speaks of Mrs. Eddy’s benevolent motivation in creating the Monitor.

As Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, she was keenly aware of the need for humanity to be motivated by the power that animated Christ Jesus. She understood that the Christ, as the divine idea of God, comes to uplift and save humanity from sin, sickness, and death, just as Jesus illustrated in his healing works throughout his ministry. In referring to his mission, Jesus stated how his motives were linked to God. He said, “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me” (John 5:30).

By this he meant that all power came from the one Spirit, God, who is divine Love. It was this power of divine Love that enabled Jesus to heal the sick, reform sinners, and raise the dead and dying. He said that in following him, we, too, would find in God our ability to help and heal.

Our Father, as Jesus called God, impels right motives and acts in us. The book of Job has this encouraging truth: “there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding” (Job 32:8). Jesus was proof that man, as the likeness of God, can have only the divine animus within him. This spirit of Christ is within each one of us. It motivates us to think and act in a way that accomplishes good and not evil.

We might not feel that our motives are pure all the time, but where there’s a sincere desire to be purer of heart, that sincere desire, or prayer, finds an answer through God’s loving, transforming power. It’s helpful to understand that an evil purpose or motive is never derived from God, who is good only. Anything not impelled by divine good, anything that does not have the blessing of divine Love within it, has no power to move it forward or sustain it. “A wrong motive involves defeat,” writes Mrs. Eddy (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 446). Sooner or later, what is not part of our real selfhood – the spiritual expression of God and His goodness – falls by its own weight, and through spiritual regeneration of heart and mind we can make room for right motives.

A right motive, being of God, must involve success. So long as we have the same motivating spirit of Christ, we possess the ability to bless others. A God-impelled motive can never be hindered. Mrs. Eddy explains, “The purpose and motive to live aright can be gained now.…Working and praying with true motives, your Father will open the way” (Science and Health, p. 326).

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

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