Motives vs. Outcomes

A person’s conscience is the Lord’s searchlight exposing the hidden motives          Proverbs 20:27

I spoke with a client not long ago who was struggling with inadequacy, especially regarding his income. While he was earning a decent living, and was not in debt, he was triggered to feel inadequate when he discussed finances with his wife. After some discussion about this, I asked him what his “self-talk” was about how he felt. How did he internally process the feelings he was having?

He talked about his family of origin, as well as some past financial plans he had made, etc., and I asked him to consider in his self-assessment the difference in outcomes vs. motives. I explained that we often default to looking at certain outcomes in our life- “did this work out well or poorly for me”? At the same time, we often do not consider our motives. Did I mean to do the right and loving thing? Were my intentions geared toward the best interest of my family or others? Did I do the best I could given the information that I had at the time?

These are motive questions. I am a believer that outcomes are not totally under our control, but our motives are. There can be other circumstances that may hinder the outcome that we desire, but our motives are ours, and we must own them. They are totally under our control. If our motives are good (not perfect, they seldom are), then we can give ourselves grace about outcomes. We may be too hard on ourselves for outcomes without considering our motives.

My client considered that, and that was his takeaway from the session. He recognized that he did have good motives, but the outcomes were not always what he had hoped for, and indeed that is what he judged himself upon.  

So, consider motives when judging yourself. Self-aware people do judge themselves, and that is fine, as long as we do it in a way that is balanced.

 That allows us to give ourselves grace in the process.

Prayer: Lord, help us to extend to ourselves a portion of the grace you give to us, Amen

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