The Crucial Difference in Motives: Being or Feeling – Episode 15


Duration 12:39

Do you sincerely want to be a certain way? Or just feel a certain way?

Is there even a difference?

In this episode of the podcast, I talk about this important distinction in our motives. It’s a problem that I’ve observed in myself and in many others – and discovering this difference is a simple concept that can change your life.

Feel free to add to the discussion below the transcript:

Photo Credit: Tonya Little (Creative Commons)


Full Transcript

Welcome to the Life of a Steward Christian Time Management Podcast. From Biblical instruction to systems and tips to motivation and inspiration, we look at time management from a Christian perspective. We want to make the most of our time, not to make much of us but to make much of him. Not to earn anything but because he’s already earned it. Join me as we seek together to live the Life of a Steward.

In this episode, we’ll take a look at motives – particularly the difference between wanting to be something and wanting to feel a certain way. It may sound like a subtle difference, but it’s a crucial difference that can change your life.


Hello again – this is Loren Pinilis from Life of a Welcome to another episode. Here we are in a brand new year – a chance to turn a new leaf, a chance to really think about where our lives are going and where we’re going. We can do that anytime of year, don’t get me wrong – but there’s something about New Year’s which gets our culture generally focused on those matters.

Introducing the Difference

I wanted to talk a little bit today about something that I’ve been considering lately when it relates to goals and working in various areas of our lives. It centers around our motives.

One thing I’ve realized about myself is that I often have a particular motive – let me see if I can explain this well. In the area of fatherhood for instance, I’ve realized that sometimes I don’t want to be a good father – I want to feel like I’m a good father. It’s not about BEING a good father, it’s about FEELING like I’m a good father.

My concern in this case is not raising my kids or doing what’s best for them or trying to live out the biblical mandate for fatherhood – my concern is that I don’t want to look in the mirror and feel like a failure as a father. I want to look in the mirror and say to myself that I’m a good person and I’m a good father.

In this case, I’m not concerned with BEING a good father – just feeling like it. This same mindset could be true for other areas – do I want to BE a good husband or just feel like a good husband? Do I want to BE a good steward of my time or just feel like it? The applications are endless.

Hopefully you see the basic difference of what I’m talking about here – and I think as I explain this a little further and we address this a little more in the rest of the podcast, it will make more sense.

But before I really dive in a little deeper – I just want to say this. This is  something that I  don’t want to guilt trip you on. This is something that I’ve seen in myself. This is something that I’ve seen in a lot of people. So if you see any of yourself in this, don’t feel that you’re alone. I don’t want to beat up on anyone. I have a problem with this, and I know a lot of other people do too. But I do want us to think deeply and think about ways that we can change, and hopefully some good healthy introspection can come as a result of this podcast.

Why This Matters

Now you may be saying to yourself – who cares? What’s the difference? Is it wrong to want to feel like a good husband? Does this distinction that you make – does it matter?

I want to convince you today that it does. And my hope is to get you to take a good hard look at your own motives. For all of us to. Do you want to BE a certain way or just FEEL a certain way.

Pride Leads to Ineffectiveness

So here’s the first problem – and it’s obvious. It’s all about pride. It’s all about you. When your concern is not that you want to be a good husband or be a good wife but that you just want to feel a certain way – then that’s a very prideful approach. You’re only thinking about yourself in this case.

You’re not truly loving others. If you truly loved others, you would do what is good for them. But that’s not what’s happening. You’re only doing what’s good for making you feel a certain way.

You don’t look at your wife, for instance, and evaluate “What does she need? What would be the best for her? What would be the best for my kids?” Loving your neighbor as yourself is doing what’s best for them.

Instead, if you’re just concerned about feeling a certain way – you just want to do the simplest, easiest, least-challenging act that will make you feel good, make you feel like you’re a good parent or a good father, regardless of whether it’s sincerely the best thing for that person or not.

And in the area of our time, if you just want to feel like you’re a good steward of your time instead of actually BEING a good steward of your time, then you’re likely just to find some busy work to keep you occupied. That way you don’t feel like you’ve really wasted your day – you’re numb to that fact. You tell yourself that you’re busy. But really you’ve chosen to do things that weren’t really the absolute best use of your time.

I’ve caught myself  doing this. This seems to be especially true when I don’t do a good job of planning my day. But I’ll wake up and when I’m thinking about how to be active that day, I pick some silly busy work task like cleaning your office when there are a ton of other things that would be way more productive and more effective for me to do.

We end up doing the bare minimum to get  that FEELING that you’ve been busy and productive.

Or sometimes you can go to the opposite extreme. You’ll do the showiest, most sacrificial act so that you FEEL like you’re a good father or husband or a good manager of your time. And you do that – you do these major, major things to justify not doing anything the rest of the time and still allowing yourself to FEEL like you’re a good person. It’s like the husband who never does anything nice for his wife and then buys her a super expensive ring. In his mind, he can point back to that ring for years, saying “Of course I’m a good husband. Of course I love my wife look at that ring.” But he’s not acting in her best interest. He’s acting in a simple, easy way that  doesn’t challenge him but still makes him feel like a good husband.

Excuses Preserve Feelings, Destroy Effectiveness

And here’s the second issue:

One thing you do is you make excuses. If you just want to FEEL a certain way instead of being that way, you make excuses. I may not be a good husband in this particular way, but the reason is because (we tell ourselves) the reason is because of this or that  or this excuse or that excuse. And when we have these excuses, we still FEEL like we’re good people. We tell ourselves “Well, I really want to be a good husband. And my heart’s in the right place. I’m a good person. It’s just excuse, excuse, excuse.” So you can FEEL like you’re a good husband even if you’re acting like you’re a bad husband. These excuses allow us to protect our feelings. And as long as we find a good excuse, then mission accomplished. We don’t actually have to do anything in the best interest of someone else.

So if you want to feel like you’re a good steward of your time instead of actually BEING one, you’ll make a lot of excuses. You’re going to be better next week – or next month – it’s not that you’re lazy. It’s not that you’re stupid. It’s not that you’re a bad steward of your time. You tell yourself that you’re hard working and a great person. It’s just that there’s this excuse and that excuse and you need this piece of equipment and there’s this situation.

No Desire to Solve Problems

Here’s a third issue.

When you want to FEEL like a good steward instead of actually BEING a good steward, then you handle problems a particular way. When you’re confronted with a problem, you don’t think outside of the box. You don’t think about ways to solve this problem. You don’t have a problem-solving mindset.

In fact, in a really strange way, you actually invite these problems. Because then you can use them as excuses. You can use them as busy work instead of getting down to the real challenging productive work  that you should be doing.

You can just throw your hands in the air and talk about how frustrated you are and how there’s this difficulty and that difficulty – and you don’t put an ounce of effort into trying to seriously resolve those problems.

If you just want to feel a certain way rather than being a certain way – you may be less inclined to grow. Instead of learning new skills or working on improving yourself – you’re content to just go with the flow and stay the same. As long as you have that feeling – it doesn’t matter if you could better serve people by enhancing certain skills. That’s just not what you’re interested in. As long as you find that excuse or that problem, you can tell yourself that you’re a really good person – there’s just this problem. But you never take any efforts to resolve the problem. You’re not interested in serving and loving others, you just want to feel a certain way.

Modern Day Pharisees

And here’s what I see as a great obstacle in addressing this issue in our lives.

This mindset difference – between wanting to BE a certain way and wanting to FEEL a certain way – can be incredibly deceptive. Because it’s a good thing, right?, to BE a good father. That’s great. That’s admirable. That’s proper. That’s holy. That’s righteous.

And it’s so easy to confuse that with wanting to feel like a good father.

Because it can look so similar from the outside. The biggest problem is figuring this out and not deceiving yourself.

Think about the Pharisees – the people that Jesus condemned the most. They were doing what seemed like righteous things from the outside – but on the inside, it was just wicked pride. They didn’t necessarily want to BE holy – they just wanted to feel holy, they wanted others to look at them and say that they were holy.

Being a Pharisee is easy in a way – because you think you’re doing the right thing. In a way you’ve deceived yourself. The Pharisees would have told you that they were God’s people and they were doing what God wanted them to do. They were deceived. They didn’t even realize the problems they had. They thought they were virtuous.

That’s part of the reason why this issue is so pervasive and so nasty. We don’t even realize when we have problems with this – when we have problems with our motives. Our true desire is just to feel a certain way but we deceive ourselves into thinking that our desire is to be a certain way. We don’t even understand the difference.


These may sound like subtle differences, but I really believe that getting this right can be life-changing. When you really are doing things in the best interest of other people – your life is going to look totally different. This subtle difference in motives can change your life. So I hope you take some time to examine your own motives.

I’ve just scraped the surface of this issue with this podcast – so if you have any more thoughts to add, I’d love to hear from you. What are some other problems with this mindset that you’ve seen? Do you see this in yourself? Have I struck a nerve? If you see this problem in yourself, how have you solved it?

Add to the discussion at Life of a If you have any questions you’d like me to answer on the podcast, just Email me at

Until next time, this is Loren Pinilis from

Remember: We want to make the most of our time, not to make much of us but to make much of him. Not to earn anything but because he’s already earned it. Join me next time where we’ll look at more time management tips from a Christian perspective as we seek together to live the Life of a Steward.

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