Points. What does that word mean to you? As I typed this I thought of many things: Points scored in a game like basketball or soccer, weight watcher points that I fail miserably at. (I'm eating a brownie as I type this... and a diet coke too!) Points on a test or SAT score, brownie points, etc. In fact, looking it up in the dictionary there's like over 35 definitions of the word "point". From knitting needles to mathematics!
Yesterday I put my kids in another church's VBS program. It's a wonderfully well done program that is a true outreach to their community. They do it out of a local elementary school and it's friendly, organized and they had over 100 kids signed up! I received a CD of songs they'd be singing and my kids had a great time yesterday.
So by now, you may be wondering what my Point is. I do have one. Lately I've been really thinking about motivation and why I make the choices I do. Is it to fit in? Be "accepted"? Is it to be highly regarded? I blogged about Project Restoration and still wonder if I attended out of love for the people and Christ or because I enjoy being a good church person and stuff like that is expected? I am naturally drawn to doing things out of duty and command. I've been told that without love these things are worthless (the infamous 1 Cor 13 love chapter) so it has really caused me to pause and take note: Why do I do what I do?
I grew up in church, strived to be a perfect church girl and was widely thought that I was. I did EVERYTHING and loved it. I won the Pioneer Girl highest honor award, won many awards in the christian school I attended, including perfect attendance, and just really strived for stuff like that. The strange thing is that as much as I crave acknowledgment, when it's bestowed upon me I don't know what to do with it and it really isn't as fulfilling as I thought it'd be.
Sorry, I guess I did say I had a point so here it is: In the VBS program my kids attended yesterday, I got a paper encouraging them to bring in a backpack filled with school supplies for a needy local child that could not afford it. I thought that was a wonderful idea and that perhaps next year my church could do the same: I love getting my kids excited about helping out other kids and this, a backpack with school supplies, is something I can really get them to help me with: Shopping and picking out the supplies, maybe writing a little note or drawing in it, loading it all up, etc.
But Reid was mostly excited that he'd get five bonus points for bringing it in. Not a big deal, right? And yet, it has caused me to think: I grew up in a church that rewarded everything. I won a Thompson Chain Study Bible through perfect attendance and scripture memorization. I won several trips to Disneyland by bringing the most people to visit the youth group and through other things like bringing my bible, scripture memorization, etc. In fact, the pastor even at one time offered his car, a vintage Karmann Ghia until it ended up causing more trouble, fighting, and lack of unity that was not it's purpose so the prize changed. The awards I got were all based on my performance. To a huge degree, my worth was built on what I did and it was never enough. I may have won the prize but was it really fulfilling?
Does it matter if a person goes to a community outreach for the fellowship more than a desire to help? Does it matter why a child memorizes scripture, be it for a candy or because they know that the Bible is important? Do motives matter?
I've no answers; it's just something on my mind. It just seems that we live in a society that embraces brownie points, appearance's sake, and things are done for what one can get in return: Like five bonus points. Things are valuable not because they have value in themselves but because of the instant gratification or recognition that accompanies it.
That being said, though I feel that I do struggle with doing thing out of brownie points instead of love for God, i am also thankful for the the good things I've done and learned because it was required or rewarded. I have chapters of scripture I have memorized from Jr. High that I still have deeply ingrained in memory and find it valuable because scripture memorization is valuable even after the recognition or prize fades away.
So perhaps I don't know what my point is. What do you think? Do motives matter? Is it right or wrong to use treats to reward behaviour? Is it good to reward deeds and action no matter what the motivations are?