Goal Achieving or Tension Relieving?


Regi Campbell discusses how to weigh the motive behind your actions.

Everything we do has purpose. Maslow would say the first priority of every human being is survival. So our motive for dodging the oncoming car, our motive for eating when we’re hungry, our desire for sleep all come from our innate drive to survive.

But after you get past that most basic motive, what drives our behavior? Why do we do what we do? We’re not talking about callings or big picture stuff. We’re talking hour-by-hour, day-by-day practicalities.

From a practical standpoint, everything we do is either goal achieving or tension relieving.

A goal is a vision of what can be. Once we’ve embraced a goal, we’ve created tension between what is and what can be. This positive tension motivates us … drives us toward achieving the goal. We may never put the goal in writing, but it certainly gets logged in our minds.

Tension relieving points us toward what was vs. what is. The tension tends to be more toward returning to a pleasant place in the past or toward protecting the present state. We will work just as hard to relieve tension as to achieve goals.

Even when we think of the next life, there’s the goal achieving drive to get to heaven, take others with us, and to have the rewards for our obedience to lay at Jesus’ feet. But there’s also the tension relieving motive of avoiding hell, of not slipping into heaven by the skin of our teeth, and of avoiding the embarrassment of having nothing to lay at Jesus’ feet when we meet Him.

We all have some “goal achieving” and some “tension relieving” in us. And there’s a time for each, no doubt. Goal achieving actions are usually harder. They stretch us into unfamiliar territory. They require taking risk. Tension relieving tasks are usually easier. They’re familiar. Low risk. Safe.

But which seems more like Jesus? Which leads us to a deeper relationship with God and more dependence on Him?

When you sit down at your desk today, you have a choice. Will you relieve tension by straightening up, organizing, making lists, and restoring the order of the past? Or will you look at the things you can do that will change things … that will make a difference … that will add value to your organization, employees, customers, vendors, superiors, or friends?

When you pray today, will you ask God for protection? Or will you ask Him for a challenge?

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