Last night I hardly slept. I was haunted by the heaviness of insecurity and anxiety. My thoughts hastened from disappointment, “I wish I earned more money,” to doubt, “Did I somehow miss God along this path? Did I veer right when God was leading me left?” Answers and clarity did not come in the night’s darkness. I tossed and turned, anxious to be rescued by the light of day. But also, I was exhausted and needed a good night’s sleep. As you can imagine, as the sun rose to greet me, I retreated, burying myself beneath my comforter.
Aching from the wet blanket of a night, my body could not be motivated to move. I just wanted to lay in bed and take a personal day from being me. I wanted to quit — quit my purpose, quit my rationale for being here, quit my raison d’etre. I wanted to conjure up a different purpose – one that feels more simplistic and affable – a purpose that doesn’t ask me to be the administrative assistant and personal Uber for three brilliant and talented children and their two cute Aussiedoodles, while designing and teaching a high school elective on anti-racism, leading a nonprofit, writing encouraging blogs, publishing books, consulting with schools, coaching executives, and managing menopause! I love all the things that I get to do (except for menopause). But in the darkest hours of the night, I longed to be a highly-paid IT professional who gets to work a thirty-hour week and leaves all her company cares at the office when she goes home to her family who has nowhere important to be.
As I got ready for school after my sleepless night, I fought to sense God’s tangible presence. I wanted to feel motivated. I prayed, Today, I don’t have it in me. God, You’re going to have to show up for me.
Walking through the school lobby on the way to my classroom, I paused to read the whiteboard, intentionally positioned to grab the attention of passers-by. A handwritten quote read:
“Don’t expect to be motivated every day to get out there and make things happen. You won’t be. Don’t count on motivation. Count on discipline.” – Jocko Willink
In a world that constantly preaches the gospel of motivation, I sometimes find myself seeking that fleeting feeling of enthusiasm and inspiration to propel me in my purpose. I look for external factors to ignite the fire within, to keep me going when the journey gets tough. For example, I often wonder if earning a lot more money would make me feel validated and stimulated. But God’s divine purpose calls me to a different standard — one that transcends the whims of emotion and taps into the wellspring of unwavering determination.
The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, speaks about pressing on toward the goal. This pressing implies a continuous effort, regardless of external circumstances or internal fluctuations of motivation.
It’s easy to start with a burst of enthusiasm, but what happens when that initial fervor begins to wane? This is where discipline steps in. Discipline is the steady anchor that keeps us rooted in our purpose, even when the winds of doubt and weariness try to sway us.
When we understand that our purpose is not contingent on fleeting feelings but is a divine calling, we can appreciate the importance of cultivating discipline.
In Philippians 3:14, Paul encourages us to press on toward the goal of winning the prize for which God has called us. Notice that it’s God who has called us to this purpose. It’s a calling that’s uniquely designed for us, tailored to our strengths, talents, and experiences. This realization strengthens our resolve and reminds us that quitting isn’t an option. Only we are designed to fulfill this purpose, and quitting would mean leaving a void that no one else can fill.
Consider the story of Nehemiah. He faced incredible challenges while rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. He encountered external opposition, internal doubts, and the temptation to give up. However, he recognized the importance of his role in fulfilling God’s purpose. Despite the weighty difficulties, he pressed on with unwavering discipline. And because he didn’t allow his motivation to determine his commitment, the walls were rebuilt!
Tonight, as our heads hit the pillow, let’s remember that motivation may ebb and flow, but purpose remains constant. Let’s embrace the truth that we are uniquely designed for our purpose, and quitting is not an option. God can help us cultivate the discipline needed to get out of bed and fulfill His given purpose. Just as Paul pressed on and Nehemiah persisted, may we too stand firm in our resolve to fulfill our purpose, regardless of how we feel.