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.