the weblog of Alan Knox

Motivated to missions because of duty, expectations, or something else

Posted by on Aug 26, 2011 in blog links, missional | 9 comments

Motivated to missions because of duty, expectations, or something else

Felicity at “Simply Church” has written another good (and short) post called “Motivated for mission.”

She begins with what Matthew records as Jesus’ final exhortation to his followers in Matthew 28:19-20. Jesus told them to “Go and make disciples…”

In response, Felicity makes the following statement:

We can follow his instructions out of duty, obedience, or even the expectations of others.

I thought about this statement a couple of days ago when I heard some students discussing a recent sermon delivered in chapel. One of the students said, “If so-and-so’s sermon doesn’t convince you to go overseas, then nothing will.”

Now, I’m sure the student’s statement was hyperbole, and he doesn’t really believe exactly what he said.

But, it did cause me to think about motivation, especially motivation to “go and make disciples.”

What do you think? Are duty, obedience, or the expectations of others the proper reasons for following Jesus’ instructions (either the great commission or anything else)? If not, then what is the right motivation? How do we help motivate people, or do we?


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 8-26-2011

    I like a comment a certain Lutheran pastor (Pastor Will Weedon) made some time that I made note of…

    “What I have come to rejoice in is this: our Lord did not command, “Go, fish for men!” He rather promised, “Follow me and I will make you a fisher of men.” He did not say: “Go, witness!” He promises, “Stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high and you will be my witnesses…to the ends of the earth.” And He does make us so: fishers and witnesses. As we follow Him, as we seek to love Him and to love our neighbor, serving them and honoring them and opening our mouth whenever they ask us to account for the hope that is in us, the Lord actually has use of us in bringing others to faith. But He solidly keeps His hands on the verbs for conversion. Not only is it true that I cannot believe by myself; I cannot give faith to a single other person out there – no matter how clever I may be in my attempts. But I can love them, serve them, rejoice in them, and whenever they ask an account – open my mouth to declare this great joy in which we live with our sins forgiven, our death destroyed, secure in the love of a Savior who loves them too and did all this for them as well.

    Have you ever been in a conversation where you had the distinct impression that the other person asked a question of you, but really wasn’t listening, wasn’t interested, was only waiting to talk? How frustrating that is? And yet that’s how we’ve made evangelism come off too often. What a different critter it is when our witness to the Savior comes as a result of genuine inquiry. And with no need to pressure the person – just to share with them the love that we have come to know and rejoice in and live from – and to assure them that it is for them as much as for us. I see that as the Lord’s keeping His gracious promise to us – to make us fishers, to make us witnesses. Gift, not demand. Promise, not burden. Peace, not pressure.”

    The gist is this: Who is running the verbs, so to speak, in regards to conversion. Is it us? Or is God? The Holy Spirit reveals Christ to us. Christ reveals the Father to us. The Father sent His Son and His Spirit. God (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) works out the whole process of salvation. We respond His work in us with His good works, His love, etc.

    My two cents. I lurk around these parts and really enjoy your posts. Not sure we see eye to eye an awful lot, but you certainly cause me to think through a bunch of these issues regarding mission/ ecclesia/ etc.


  2. 8-26-2011

    I would simply respond that where our motivation starts doesn’t necessarily dictate where it should stay. Motivations are subject to sanctification like any other passion. In my case, and the reason for laying down my life, job, and home for mission work was an undeniable compulsion to do so from what I believe was the Spirit Himself.

  3. 8-26-2011


    Thanks for lurking and for commenting. What do you think about Miguel’s comment (following yours) that our motivations are subject to change?


    I’ve seen changing motivations in my own life. Do you think God uses wrong motives at times to produce actions that honor him, and then he later changes the motives?


  4. 8-26-2011

    I would agree with Miguel. Our motivations certainly can and do change. It makes me think of the spiritual state we Christians live in (simul iustus et peccator – simultaenously saint and sinner). It is reminscent of what Paul said to the Romans when he writes ‘For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate, etc.’ We don’t always do what we ought. Many times we don’t even want to do the things we ought.

    And that is why I believe it is good news that we are not held responsible for how much we do missions or having to judge our motivation. We simply live out our vocation. I work in cube world, so to speak, and get to love people around me, serve my employer, serve my customers, etc. We get to love people in our day to day lives in whatever vocations God has us in.

    It is God who gives us faith. We can’t give it to anyone else no matter how hard we try. But we certainly can be ready to give a defense for what we believe.

  5. 8-26-2011

    How does an introverted person GO and make disciples?

    Anyone else struggle with this? I posted on my site about this

    Thanks Alan for the post and to get me thinking again.


  6. 8-27-2011


    Good comment. I agree. The question that I’m often asked, and ponder myself, is this: What if we’re not motivated to love those around us? What if we know that others lack the motivation?


    That’s a good question. Believe it or not, I used to be an introvert. I didn’t deal with it very well, to be honest.


  7. 8-28-2011

    Yeah, unless I change to be an extrovert (which I am sure I am not) things are going to remain fuzzy…

  8. 8-31-2011

    So I don’t have a lot of profound things to say about this but I can share MY personal experience. I am an introvert and a few years back God, literally, sent me to Kenya. I didn’t want to go for several reasons and God said go. I became more afraid of disobeying his clear word to me rather than the fear of going (I’m an introvert, blah, blah, blah). So I went out of sheer obedience – that was my only motivation. Amazing what God did with that. He turned me around and within a day of landing, through no special circumstances just being in country out of obedience to him, my motivation was completely different and my heart completely altered. Oh I still was introverted but he did…something. To this day I still am piecing it all together. So can an introvert GO? The answer is yes. Can God, will God ask of us sheer obedience? I believe, from personal experience, yes. Can he use the motivation of obedience for something bigger and better? Yes. Oh and to follow up…this introverted girl LED the next trip to Kenya! 🙂 And has a whole gaggle of people in Kenya that now call me family and I call them family. Like I said, nothing profound or deep but just a personal experience. 🙂 Lovin’ your posts Alan…and yours too Swanny!

  9. 9-1-2011


    I was hoping someone would bring this up. There are times when I’ve obeyed Christ (with the wrong motivation), and he has changed my motivation in the midst of that obedience.