God and Drive

I once was talking to a pastor about his work habits. It sort of came around to a question of what drove him, and he commented, “I don’t want to get to heaven and have God say to me [in an exasperated voice], ‘What were you doing?'”

I’ve thought about his comment many times over the years. I always found it rather disheartening. I think it says quite a bit about the kind of relationship that he had with God, the kinds of interactions that they had and the sort of emotional responses that were evoked in those interactions. It says a lot about his pastor’s understanding of God’s character and temperament. For him, God seemed kind of demanding and, in a sense, unforgiving. Sure, your sins are forgiven on one level, but on some other level, He was still holding them against you. Or perhaps your sins were forgiven, but your not-sinful-but-not-productive actions were still evidence that you were a screw up. For him, God was more task-driven than relationally-driven; what’s important is to accomplish something and be efficiently productive about it (which makes me wonder why Jesus spent so much time wandering around the countryside rather than just ticking off the Sanhedrin right from the start to get himself killed).

On some level, this pastor didn’t want to upset God’s authority. He might even have been afraid of the consequences, the disappointment and exasperation.

There’s a lot to say about God-image in this, but I think there’s also something to say about how that ties to your motivations in life, particularly in your spiritual life. What is your image of God like, and how does it drive (or fail to drive) you? Does your image of a distant God leave you unmotivated in general? Does your image of a punitive God cause you to be over-scrupulous but then hide when you make mistakes? Does your task-driven God move you to work hard but burn out? Does your relational image of God incline you to spend time just hanging out with Him? Does your nurturing God make you want to see how He’s taking care of you? Does your image of a generous God cause you to stop in gratitude frequently? How would you describe God, and how do those descriptors affect how you live?

Since then, the pastor actually passed away from a neurological disorder, and I’ve wondered, “Now that you’ve stood face-to-face with God, what did He say to you?”

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2 responses

  1. I’m listening to The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. I read it as a teenager and I’m fascinated listening to it this time around. In it, she describes one the the aunts she grew up with. Her Aunt was famous in Holland for the tracts she wrote and published. Her motivation for writing them and publishing them was her belief that the life God would give her in heaven was directly proportional to how much she got done here on earth. And in addition to that she had a fear of dying early just as a sister in law. So she had the added pressure of knowing she might only have short time to do the behaviors that help you to end up with a great eternity. Wow. There was no joy in any of it. It makes me sad to think about. I’m glad little Corrie was able to see through it.

    July 2, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    • I sometimes find it disheartening how much it seems we are motivated, even as believers, by fear. I sometimes wonder if the church tends to create a fear-based culture. But as you say, it’s a joy to see those lights like Corrie who aren’t so pulled that direction.

      July 3, 2013 at 10:51 am

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