Saturday, January 19, 2013

Motivated by Fear or Love

A friend of mine told me her mother that lives out of state is coming to town soon.  I thought that was great news, but she didn't agree.  I'm still trying to figure out her relationship with her mom.  But I've gotten the feeling her mom puts pressure on her to be perfect.  The last time she visited, her mom commented that her kleenex box had dust on it.  Her Mom may have meant nothing by it (or maybe she did?), but my friend took it as, "Great.  Even the kleenex box is inspected."  My friend had a list for her home to be "perfect" when her mom arrived.

Can you relate?  It may not be a clean house, but you have some perfection pressure.

Maybe at work your boss is hard to please.  Haunting, unrealistic deadlines leave you frustrated.  You work so hard, yet rarely feel you've accomplished enough.  Or, maybe it's not a boss.  It's perfection pressure you've dumped on yourself.

Or at home: If you are married, the pressure of a "perfect" marriage.  Children bring "perfect" parenting nightmares.  Single, divorced, or widowed have pressures of their own.

Physically: You must have the "perfect" body.  You must eat healthier, drink your water, cook more and eat out less, exercise, blah, blah, blah.

I could go on and on, but it stresses me out too much. 

It hit me today.  The pressure I put on myself to have life together comes from one of two different motivators.  I'm either motivated by fear, or motivated by love.

If I'm motivated out of fear I:

1) Expect recognition
2) Expect perfection
3) Experience frustration

For example, when I clean my house for my family and I'm motivated by fear, it may look like this.  I work hard thinking, "I need to get this all done to please my husband (which he usually doesn't care about perfection, and would rather have clean underwear).  If my house isn't perfect, he won't love me as much (exaggerated fear, of course).  I work only to get the job done, wondering what else I could be doing with the time, grumbling and complaining.  I scrub with a bad attitude trying to meet the perfection standard.  If my husband gets home and doesn't say anything about my clean house, I've failed.  My perfection standard leaves me frustrated.  Again.  No wonder I get defensive if he notices the one chore I didn't finish.  I  say, "but I did ____, and _______, and ______."  Why?  Motivated by fear.

If I'm motivated by love I:

1) Don't need a pat on the back, or words of affirmation.
2) Don't strive for perfection, but satisfied with a job done with my best effort.
3) Don't freak out about work that seems redundant or mundane.

So my cleaning effort looks like this:  I clean my house because I love my husband and girls.  I use my time to sing praises at the top of  my lungs, pray for others, and practice scripture memory.  When I dust, I ask God to show me what parts of my life He wants to clean.  When my husband comes home and asks me for clean socks when I didn't do whites that day, I say, "I'm sorry.  I didn't wash whites, but I would love to do them for you."  No excuses.  No bad attitude. (My husband is still waiting for the day of no excuses). Why?  I want to be motivated by love. 

Colossians 3:23
Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.

1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.

You can apply this motivation question to any task at home, work, or school, and even church.
What about you? What motivates you? Fear or Love?

Linked up with:Jolene Engle,,, Kathy at cornerstoneconfessions; A Holy Experience


  1. We're talking on our blog today about "goodness" ( and what it means to be good enough. I loved your take on being perfect and the fear that drives it. Awesome job.

    1. Thank you, Helene. I'm glad we got linked up today. I enjoyed reading your blog on goodness.

  2. I can completely relate. When my mother comes over I try to make sure stray underwear is picked up but that's about it. When my mother in law comes over I'm cleaning for days : ) You hit the nail on the head! I am seeking her approval and I'm afraid she won't like me, whereas with my mom I know she loves me. Wow, you may have just saved me thousands in therapy : )

    Found you via the Better Mom

    1. I'm so glad you found this post. Thank you for your comment. Feel free to share it with others. It may save others from therapy :).

  3. This is a great post! I have a similar post ready to go... What we do out of fear almost always produces a level of anxiety and what we do out of love produces peace. Nice to see how the Holy Spirit is working along the same lines in our lives!
    I'm so glad you visited Mary @ Woman to Woman today!
    Blessings to you ~ Mary

    1. Thank you, Mary. Yes, the Holy Spirit continues to work on issues of fear in my life. You may want to read my previous posts on "fear"

  4. You must be talking to me Stacy! Just a couple of months ago I decided to slow down on the pressures I put on myself and life's a lot easier that way.
    Visiting and following you now from Titus Tuesday, have a super blessed day!

    1. Thank you, Ugochi. I visited your blog today. I love the name! Keep the good work!

  5. Amazing what change of perspective does, no? And the one who benefits most is you. Good thoughts, friend! Thanks for linking to Playdates with God.

    1. Thanks, Laura. May God bless your blogging ministry.

  6. This is a really good article Stacy~ My husband is a perfectionist too. I just let him have things his way. I'm pretty easy going and laid back and menopause is reason enough to drop the perfectionism ideals that I once had. I love the Colossians verse.

    1. Thank you for the nice comment. Maybe I'll figure out the nonperfectionism ideal by menopause :)

  7. Came to your blog from Ann Voskamp's. Came because the word "hope" was in your name and "hope" is my word for the year. Thank you for your words, lately this has been a recurring theme for me . . . as I realized I operate so very much out of fear. Your words were encouraging by giving the reverse way to operate.

    1. Thank you for your comment. I pray you continue to find HOPE as you dig into the word of God. As a result, may you simply spill hope to others.


I would love to hear your comments.