As Christians, our motivation is crucial. The difference between righteousness and evil is often not what we do but why we do it.
Furthermore, we have a tremendous ability to deceive ourselves. It takes a lot of honesty to look deep within and see that your motivations are off.
And I see a typical pattern emerging again and again – particularly in regards to productivity and time management. I know that I fall victim to this so often.
I call it “Feel-Focus Syndrome.”
Feeling Instead of Being
Feel-Focus Syndrome occurs when we focus on feeling a certain way – instead of actually being something.
Feel-Focus Syndrome leaves us wanting to feel like good spouses, rather than focusing on being good spouses. Feel-Focus Syndrome moves us towards feeling like good parents rather than being good parents.
Wanting to be something will lead you to proactively work hard for another’s good. Having Feel-Focus Syndrome will instead lead you to doing the bare minimum to scrape by, interested only in serving your own ego.
Diagnosing Feel-Focus Syndrome
Here are six symptoms of Feel-Focus Syndrome. Exploring these will not only help you understand Feel-Focus Syndrome, but they can give you the chance to search your heart and see if any change is needed in your own motivations.
1. Being Self Absorbed
When I have Feel-Focus Syndrome, I’m not that concerned with the happiness of my spouse, children, friends, employers, or neighbors. My goal is just to feel like I’m a good person.
My aim is not to evaluate whether I’m truly serving the other person. I may crave surface-level affirmation (since that makes me feel like I’m doing a good job), but I don’t want any constructive criticism. In fact, I may make efforts to avoid any such input since that makes me feel like I’m not a good person.
2. Making Excuses
When I am suffering from Feel-Focus Syndrome, I’m quick to create excuses for any inadequacies I may discover. Excuses don’t change the situation, and excuses don’t enable me to better serve other people.
But that doesn’t matter as much when you have Feel-Focus Syndrome. Offering excuses allows me to protect my feelings, which is, of course, the central aim of Feel-Focus Syndrome.
3. Staying Busy, Not Productive
When I have Feel-Focus Syndrome, constant activity keeps me feeling like I’m accomplishing a lot. I may not be, but that’s not as important as feeling like it when you have Feel-Focus Syndrome.
4. Prioritizing the Easy, Not Important
Doing the bare minimum allows those of us with Feel-Focus Syndrome to feel like we’re moving ahead. The measure we use to evaluate ourselves is not what we could have done or what would be best or what would be the most loving to others.
We focus on “improvement,” despite the fact that we know more is needed and more is possible. But we can point to a small speck of improvement and pat ourselves on the back, keeping us feeling like we’re still good people.
5. Prioritizing the Dramatic, Not the Necessary
If sufferers of Feel-Focus Syndrome really start feeling bad, we have a great way to fix this. We’ll do the most dramatic and showy effort of hard work – regardless of how much good this actually accomplishes.
We’ll do something that calls a lot of attention to ourselves, something that involves a lot of perceived sacrifice. This way, we can get feeling better about ourselves and don’t need to address this area for a long while – after all, we’ve just completed this Herculean task.
Whether or not the task was necessary, important, useful, or beneficial at all isn’t really important. It doesn’t matter if there was another easier, more obvious, and more helpful task.
6. Not Being Proactive
When I’m in the grips of Feel-Focus Syndrome, I don’t care about getting better. I don’t care about being proactive and thoughtful. I don’t care about considering new approaches or new skills.
I’m not concerned with creatively coming up with new and better ways to serve. The good ol’ way is good enough, and it keeps me feeling like I’m a good person.
Now my intent with this post isn’t to beat anyone up, myself included. Feeling guilt or shame isn’t my desire, repentance and change are.
My hope is that we would take a good, hard look at ourselves and pray for change where change is needed. Our time is too important to be wasted with the wrong motivations.
Do you see any of these tendencies in you? Where do you need to change?
Photo Credit: Jess Pac (Creative Commons)
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