Here’s the first: The most important question isn’t what someone else wants, it’s “What do you want?”
You have to own your wants.
Think about how different the following statements feel:
“You should lose a few pounds.” vs. “I want to be a healthy weight.”
“I wish you’d be home on time.” vs. “It’s important to me to be home when I say.”
“Don’t commit adultery.” vs. “I love my spouse and want to be true to him/her.”
Some of us try to skirt this kind of ownership by putting the emphasis only on what God wants. But he doesn’t run rough shod over us. Our choice matters to him. Take a look through the gospels at how many times Jesus asked, “What do you want me to do for you?”
This is important because your wants are closely connected to your sense of who you are. When you know you want something, it shapes how you view yourself, and this makes a huge difference in motivation.
What if you have recurring wants that conflict with who you really want to be (e.g. eating too much pie, flirting with another man/woman, or fudging on your taxes)? If they’ve been persistent enough, they’ve shaped your self-perceptions, and you may hardly be able to imagine yourself being anything different.
This is where owning what you want becomes especially vital. Owning what you really want (e.g. to be fit, to have eyes only for our spouse, to be a man or woman of integrity) helps to displace those faulty images of yourself by replacing them with truer, nobler images.
I think this is a big part of why Jesus asks, “What do you want?” He wants us to know who we really are.
Take this challenge for the remainder of the week: Drop from your vocabulary statements like I should, I’m supposed to, or [someone] wants me to, and replace them with simply I want to. As you do, observe what happens to your motivation level.
Let me hear from you. Where have you owned your wants and what difference has that made for you? Leave a comment below to join the conversation.