When No One is Looking

Growing up, I kept a quote on my wall that said, “The best kind of pride is that which compels a man to do his very best when no one is watching.”

As an athlete, this motivated me to put in the work and practice even when a coach wouldn’t notice. It motivated me to do those extra push-ups, sit-ups, and visual baseball swings even if no one ever knew I was doing them.

My son Maddox, who is 3, is basically motivated to do good to avoid punishment and receive a reward. There isn’t anything wrong with this.  He’s 3. But at some point, he’s going to need to learn how to do the right thing or the extra works even if no one ever knows. His motivation will need to come from within.

Now, as I’ve grown up, I’ve realized this quote applies to much more than athletics. It applies to my role as a husband, father, pastor and a man. It’s about character. And I’ve also learned it’s not enough to simply be motivated from within; it needs to come from my relationship with Jesus.

“Whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus.” Colossians 3:17

Whatever I do – the way I interact with a cashier, the way I manage my work expenses, the way I speak or think about my co-workers – is to be done as a representative of Jesus Christ. Even if no one ever knows the way I do or say these things, the motivation isn’t because of others and it’s not enough to be motivated from within – the motivation comes from wanting and desiring to represent Jesus Christ well.

The trap is to feel guilty every time we screw up. That’s a gutter ball. Guilt is not a healthy motivation.

Instead, be motivated by your role as a representative of Jesus. That’s reason enough to do what’s right even when no one is watching.

For more on character, I highly recommend watching this message on Stronger Character from our senior pastor, Bob Merritt.

Playing the Game

“It’s one thing study war and another to live the warrior’s life.” Telamon of Arcadia, quoted in The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.

This post isn’t about war, per se. But it is about the battle that lies within me, and within all of us.

It’s a war to create, to move forward, to supply, to write, to decide, to put it on paper and act.

Personally, it’s always been easy for me to study how to become a writer, to study how to become a stronger person of faith and character, to study how to become a better leader. In fact, I dedicated my 20s to learning and studying as much as I was able.

Now, I’ve found it’s been much more difficult to turn the corner in my 30s and actually live what I’ve studied. It’s not that I haven’t acted on writing, grown in my faith and character and leadership. I have. I’ve put things in motion and acted on what I’ve studied.

But I’m not living the “warrior’s life.” I find myself losing to the Resistance (a term used by Pressfield in The War of Art). I give in, I accept, and I lose frequently to the Resistance. It’s the voice inside of me that says, It’s not worth it. You can’t do it. Keep studying. You’re not good enough yet. There are better things to do. What if you make the wrong decision? You’re an amateur. 

And on and on the Resistance screams. It keeps me from living the warrior’s life.

I know I will continue to battle the Resistance the rest of my life, but I want to study less and live more. It’s time to start winning this battle and playing – not just studying – the game.

If you find yourself stuck, if you find yourself with a decision, an act, a dream stuck inside of you, the best thing you can do is to get in the game and move forward. Make that decision. Put the dream in motion. Stop studying and start playing. Today. Right now.