Fear works. You can use it to get things done and to exert control over yourself and others.
That doesn’t mean it’s the best or most effective strategy.
You could walk from New York to LA, but there are more efficient and effective modes of transportation.
Fear based obedience is like walking. It might get you there, but it’s a giant waste of energy and a poor motivator.
If you’re using fear as your primary motive, here are three effects you should see:
1. Your motivation will lose power over time. Fear is an intense and draining emotion. You can only deal with it for so long. It eventually becomes exhausting. Slowly, you become too tired to care and indifferent to what happens. Fear based motivation is short-lived.
2. Admitting, learning and moving on from mistakes will be more difficult. You’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to do things wrong. That’s life. If you’re motivated by fear, you’ll have difficulty owning up to it when you do. You’ll fear reprisal and punishment for not living up to the standard. You’ll be tempted to rationalize and shift blame.
3. You’ll have trouble enduring hardships. You’ll think that life is unfair and that you’re owed something better when difficulty comes. In other words, despair and bitterness will be the result of suffering if your motivation is fear based.
Fear is a wimpy motivator. It’s not strong enough to carry you through. Fear might get you moving, but you’re going to need something more to reach the finish line.
What’s that something more?
Everything you have and everything you are is a result of grace. You don’t deserve it. It is a gift from God.
When understood, this should become the greatest and most sustaining motivator in life.
It is the complete opposite of fear.
Grace’s becomes a stronger motivator over time. The more you realize and understand that everything in your life is a gift the more grateful you become. The more grateful you are, the more motivated you are to honor that gift with your life.
Grace provides ground for you to own up to your mistakes without fear. If you're saved by grace, through faith, and everything in your life is because of God’s mercy, then you have nothing to fear from admitting your weakness. You’ll be more likely to share your struggles, learn from, and conquer them.
Grace will carry you through the hard times. It will be the stone your feet find beneath the quick sand and troubles of this life. It will hold you up and keep you from drowning in despair. If God owns everything, then you are a steward. How you steward things displays your gratitude to God.