Life’s Three Motivators

scpChristian Living

“Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before. I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14).

“So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.” (Luke 17:10).

All of us will agree that the little things of life cause us the most trouble. The Bible talks about the little foxes that destroy the vine, the fly in the ointment, and the little things that causes the most trouble.

The great trials of life bring their strength with them when they arrive. We naturally brace ourselves against the great trial because we see them coming.

A loved one on their deathbed causes us to brace ourselves for their death. A great battle is before us and we have time to gird yourself for that battle. The great duties of life are the same way. You have a great duty to perform and it causes you to rise to the occasion.

I spoke for Dr. Jack Hyles several times at his National Pastor’s School. That was a big event back in those days. I knew it was coming and I prepared for it. The speaking to several thousand delegates is a big responsibility and I was prepared.

However, I was just as prepared for the next Sunday morning at the Longview Baptist Temple as I was at the First Baptist Church of Hammond’s Pastor’s School.

Caution, if we don’t watch it we prepare for a great duty and give the trite duties our minor attention. The routine, mundane, trite, normal, regular, weekly, and the ordinary duty must demand as much of my attention as the great duty.

We see the great duties coming and the great duties like the great trials bring their strength with them. The great temptations of life are the same way. A great temptation is big enough to see and we automatically brace and prepare for its coming.

A friend is in great suffering and there is nothing we would not do for a friend. The great things bring with them a built in preparation and strength.

A big job brings its challenges with it. Most of us do not have problems with the big jobs. We know they are big and we prepare for them. We have no problem with the big trials. We know they are big and we prepare for them and use the strength that they bring with them.

Then comes the little trials, little duty, little temptation, little suffering, little job or little trial and we trip over them. Most college students who are expelled are expelled for the accumulation of the little things. Some college students are expelled because of the big temptations or the big infractions of the rules.

Most of the time it is the accumulation of small infraction of the rules that are broken that eventually cause the expulsion.

Did you know that most of our complaining is about little discomforts and not the big ones? We prepare for the big ones, but the little discomforts come and we complain. Why is this true? There are three great motivators in life and all of them are good!

First, I ought! Second, I must! Third, I love! Those are the three great motivators in life and all of them are good motivators.


This is the foundation motivator. Nobody will ever accomplish anything if they go below that level of motivation. You ought to do right because you ought to do right. You do right because it is right to do right.

You do it because of duty. You do it because of the obligation. You are supposed to do right when you don’t want to do right. You are supposed to do right when you don’t feel like doing right. You are supposed to do right if you are not inspired to do right. You are supposed to do right if you don’t love to do right.

That is a fundamental truth to a successful life. I ought to do and thus I do! No one should ever fall below that level of motivation.

A society depends upon this moral foundation. A nation depends upon this foundational truth. A city depends upon this foundational truth. A church depends upon this basic tenet. A church depends upon this foundational teaching.

A reason person ought to tithe and give offerings is because you ought to tithe and give offerings. Matthew 23:23, “These ye ought to have done.”

Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees about tithing and the weightier matters. Lost men ought to tithe and do the weightier matters. Saved men ought to tithe and do the weightier matters.

The reason you ought to attend Sunday school, morning preaching, Sunday night preaching, and the Wednesday night Bible study is because you ought to!

The reason a young person ought to be clean and pure is because you ought to be clean and pure. By the way that goes for you old folks too! Why? Because you ought to!

The reason you ought to read the Bible is because you ought to! Someone said, “I just don’t think you ought to do it if your heart’s not in it. It’s better to want to do it than not to do it.”

That’s crazy talk! Hog wash! Apply that to your job that pays the bills! You ought to do right because it is right to do right!

You are not to do only what you are inspired to do. The truth is most of what you do you do because you are supposed to do it and not because you are inspired to do it.

We are to do the commanded things not just the inspired things. One of the most important words in the English language, right up there with Grace, Mercy, Peace, is the word Duty. If you don’t feel like coming to church you ought to come to church because its right to do and you ought to.

If you don’t feel like reading your Bible you ought to read it anyway, because its right to read your Bible and you ought to.

If you don’t feel like going soul winning, praying, working in the nursery, tithing, or giving offerings then do it because it is right to do and you ought to.

This is not the loftiest motivator, but it is the foundational motivator. If you will add to it, not change, supplement, and not substitute you’ll never fall below the moral base of humanity.

I ought to is the lowest of the high motivators of humanity. If you will say, “I’ll always do what I’m supposed to do, because I ought to do it and it is my duty to do it” you will not fail in life.


There is one loftier motivator than “I ought” which is the first level of motivation in life. The second loftier is “I must.” This second level is a better motivator for serving God and humanity.

You lose yourself in a task, a job, a Sunday school class, or a bus route. You find yourself consumed with it and in it.

First, I ought to do it because it is right to do and I ought to! Second, I must do it because I am consumed with doing it! I can’t help myself! It’s in my bones!

Little David is tending his father’s sheep. His father came and said David take this little care package of cheese and crackers to your bothers on the battlefield. The Israelites and the Philistines were at war.

David arrived and the battle and he overheard a big blabber mouthed giant challenging the Israelites to fight. This giant was almost ten feet tall. His name was Goliath. This giant of a man bellows out to the armies of Israel to choose someone to fight him and whoever wins the battle wins the war. King Saul should have taken the challenge for he was head and shoulders taller than any man there.

Enter little David. David asked his older brothers why they didn’t fight Goliath. His brothers told little David to go on back home. “War is for men not boys,” they told him. David said, “What war? I don’t see any fighting?”

David asks King Saul for permission to fight Goliath. So, brave King Saul gave little David the king’s amour to wear. David walked a half block in the kings’ amour and the armor didn’t move.

David told King Saul he couldn’t use that amour. David then took his sling and five smooth stones. He went after the giant.

Please take note of David’s question, “Is there not a cause?” Give me a little fellow who says first “I ought” and I’ll show you a fellow who will say, “I must.” The lowest of motivations is the motivator of “I ought.”

Every one ought to say I will go no lower than to say to myself, “I ought.” Then one day it transfers into the motivator of “I must.” You find yourself saying, “I have to do this!” Then one day you find yourself saying, “I must do this!”

In John 4:4 it says about Jesus, “He must needs go through Samaria…” When someone begins to say to himself, “I must do this. I have to do this.” This man has a cause that is bigger than himself that causes him to rise above himself. It is now on the inside of him. It has become bigger than him.

Everyone in life ought to have a cause in life. You ought to have a cause that is bigger than you that lifts you out of yourself and pulls you from yourself to make you a greater self.

This is where you say I’ve got to do it. I have no choice. I must do it! God honors people who do it because they are supposed to do it and keep on doing it whether they like to it or not. Inspired or not it must be done! God then rewards these folks by elevating them to a level of wanting to do it.


I ought, I must, and then the highest of motivators is “I love!” Wait a minute! If you trade “I ought” for “I love” then when the love wanes you wont. If you add, “I love” to “I must” which is added to “I ought” then when “I love” wanes you still have “I must!”

Sometimes I hear a preacher say about giving, “God doesn’t want your money if you don’t give it cheerfully.” That is not true! It says that God loves a cheerful giver.

Uncle Sam loveth a cheerful taxpayer, but he’ll take it from any taxpayer. Quit hiding behind your lack of love for not tithing you dirty crook! You are supposed to tithe because you ought to tithe, but it’ll be more fun if you’ll lose yourself in a cause.

First, I ought to do it! Second, I must do it! Third, I love to do it! As long as my legs will carry me I will walk to the pulpit to preach. In the first place I am supposed to because it is God’s will for my life. In the second place I must do it. I have to do it! In the third place I love to do it!

I average preaching one sermon a day even though I am retired from pastoring. I have preached over 27,500 sermons as of the writing of this article. It’s in me!

Please don’t misunderstand I’m going to preach when I don’t love it, because I must do it and I’ll preach when I don’t feel like it because I ought to. I ought to do it, I must do it, and I love to do it. If I add to I ought to the second motivator of “I must” and then add, “I love” to do it. WOW! Now you’re cooking with gas!

I’ll do it because I love my Saviour! It will wound Him if I do wrong. I want Him to be pleased! I want to please Him! I do it because I love Him!

The truth is when I first started preaching forty-nine years ago it was laborious. It didn’t come easy for me. Coming up with sermons did not come easy for me. It was hard. Preaching was hard for me. I labored to do it. It thought I would never make much of a preacher, but I didn’t quit because I knew that “I ought” to do it. It was the right thing to do. It was God’s will for my life!

I am supposed to do it because it is the commanded thing to do right! One day I grew to “I must” do it! One day my preaching was from “I ought” to do it to “I must” do it! Then I couldn’t wait to mount the pulpit. God wanted to see if I’d do it even if I didn’t feel like doing it and I did what “I ought” until I said one day “I must.”

Then one day “I ought,” which had turned into “I must,” turned into “I love.”