Thursday, November 10, 2011


When I was but a lad, Mamma Sweet used to encourage me to hurry up by using the phrase, "come on!  Motate!".

As it happens, "motate" is not a proper word.  It exists in the urban dictionary nowadays, but not in any classical one.  I always took the meaning of "motate" to be of the same root as "motion" or "move".  And that seemed to be the same thinking Mamma Sweet had in mind, because only motion would appease her encouragement.

I never moved out of my own will back then.  I was compelled to move.  I was going to be late for church, or we were going to miss meeting dad for lunch, or I wasn't eating my cereal fast enough to catch the bus, etc.  In my "motating", I was only going through the motions.

Going through the motions has been on my mind a lot lately.  And I believe I've sufficiently pondered the concept long enough to systematically dock it into some doctrine.  The doctrine is more easily understood if contrasted with the concept of being truly motivated.  So begins the analysis of Motion vs Motivation...


Motions, or the things we do, can be incredibly hollow.  Revelations 3:16 tells us that such an uncommitted lifestyle is displeasing to the Lord, and if we're only "lukewarm" in all we do - He'll spit us out of his mouth.  But going through the motions can be worse than neutral too.   Consider the scripture Moroni 7:8...
"For behold, if a man being evil giveth a gift, he doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God."
 Let "grudgingly" be synonymous with "going through the motions".  Thus we see that having no real motivation or desire in the work we do can cause that work to be counted evil unto us.  We must have the heart involved in our work in order for it to mean anything both to us and to the Lord.  The late Elder Maxwell furthered this thought in his 1996 Ensign article, "According to the Desire of [Our] Hearts":
"The absence of any keen desire—merely being lukewarm—causes a terrible flattening (see Rev. 3:15). William R. May explained such sloth: “The soul in this state is beyond mere sadness and melancholy. It has removed itself from the rise and fall of feelings; the very root of its feelings in desire is dead. … To be a man is to desire. The good man desires God and other things in God. The sinful man desires things in the place of God, but he is still recognizably human, inasmuch as he has known desire. The slothful man, however, is a dead man, an arid waste. … His desire itself has dried up” (“A Catalogue of Sins,” as quoted in Christian Century, 24 Apr. 1996, 457).

This sad condition is yet another variation of the “sorrowing of the damned” (Morm. 2:13)."
And so acting without desire, or "only going through the motions", is a form of damnation.  Our progress is stopped.  Living this lifestyle involves only fulfilling one's basic needs to exist.  Scraping by, if you will.  It's the notion of "just enough to get by" motivated only by a deadline, nagging, or some physical ultimatum.  Doing only out of necessity: the notion of only motion.


Contrast the aforementioned empty lifestyle with the lifestyle of one who is truly motivated.  How do we define motivation?  In essence, it is desire.  To back up this concept - consider Alma 15:17.  Alma, after having established the church in Sidom, saw that it was a "great check", or that it "checked the people as to the pride of their hearts".  This scripture echoed in my mind after I included a bit of unnecessary information in my testimony this past Fast Sunday.  I caught myself reviewing my words and realized that I only said some of those lines to sound smart.  Some nonsense about working in a lab.  So what was my motivation in saying what I said?  Did that one dumb bit of information trump all the use out of my testimony?  Maybe it did.

Analyzing our motives can stimulate great personal growth - usually through the shadows of depression.  We tend to be turds.  It's that "natural man" clamoring through.  And when we objectively examine ourselves, particularly our motives, we come away humbled and wanting to change.  Elder Hugh B. Brown had an excellent quote on such a self-examination:
“Every man is a diary in which he writes one story while intending to write another. His humblest moment is when he compares the two.”
Such analysis over time produces purer desires.  As the boy prophet once put it, a man arrives at that point of faith where he has "lost every desire for sin".

What effect does pure desires have on us?  Well, for starters, we obtain doctrine readily.  The Doctrine and Covenants suggests this correlations at the end of the "leadership" section, namely section 121.
"Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to thehousehold of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven."
But this is not all.  When a person is filled with desire and is truly motivated by pure intentions, his life takes on new meaning.  His soul is enlarged and his joys grow in proportion to his personal progression.  He begins shaping his "wants" and lives after them.  No longer is his life governed by physical needs, but he reaches past the mortal clay and lives for the progress of the spirit.  No righteous goal seems out of reach, as his abilities grow and his gifts increase.  His capacities are enlarged, and charting such progress feeds his righteous desires.  The process is perpetual.  He begins living within the sphere after which he was made.

Needs vs. Wants

On one hand, we discover the emptiness of going through the motions.  The literal damnation of the spirit as a result of living life need by need.  On the other hand, a perpetual progression springs forth rich with increased joys and fulfillment:  the lifestyle of converting one's wants into pure desires and reaping the benefits of increased capacity and knowledge.

What makes the difference?  Scrutinizing one's motives.  Am I going through the motions, or am I truly motivated?  Are my motives pure, or do I need a humbling examination?

1 comment:

Jen said...

I always enjoy reading your blog! Very insightful!