Have to or want to?

Today in church, the Pastor said something that struck me… “The spirit of religion says, ‘I have to,’ but the spirit of God says, ‘I want to.’”

This is a pretty simple statement.  But, it blew my mind.

You see, I am very much an “I have to” type person.  I am a commitment-holic.  I jump into things with a dedication and fervor, which borders on, well, obsessive.  Once I commit to something, I need to keep going with it.  Even if I hate it.  Or I don’t want to.  That is just how I roll.  And it is not always a bad thing.  In fact, it can be a very good thing, especially in certain seasons of life.  For instance, that is how I survived my surgery rotation.

But, the problem with being a “have to” person is that I get hooked into too many things and get trapped in a “have to” cycle.  Where I “have to” do everything until I get overwhelmed.  There are limits to the “have to” and parts of those limits are stamina and attitude.  Eventually you just want to take the “have to” and shove it.

Patrick worked with someone who really stressed the concept of not doing something because you “have to” unless you really do “have to.”  For instance, stopping at a red light is a legitimate have to, whereas going to an event is generally a “have to” kind of have to.  He did an internship with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and learned quickly that if you do everything just because you think you have to, you quickly burn out and get overwhelmed.

But, there is another side to the whole not doing something because you “have to” argument. You can really use that to stop doing anything you don’t feel like doing.  Though it sounds at face value to be great, it really isn’t fully feasible.

At least it makes for a good screening test.  Especially when my “have to” habit kicks in.

And this is where God comes in.  Or can.

Most people can take this and say it is really your own judgment.  But, realistically there is more to that.  At least I believe there is.

The Holy Spirit was sent to us by God.  He left the Holy Spirit to hang out with us to give us some sort of direction while we wait here on Earth for Jesus to come back and what have you.

Many people think that faith is just a set of rules.  And there are rules.  But, the thing is that we follow them because we want to.  And yes, some people do it because they have to… But that isn’t necessarily true belief.  That is ritual.  But, when you really believe something, you do it because of that belief.  You do it because you want to.

Some people get freaked out by the notion of the Holy Spirit.  I mean, really, it/He (I always get puzzled as to whether or not the Holy Spirit is a He or an it… I guess it is God, so He?) is something (one?) you can’t see or feel in a tactile sort of way.  The Holy Spirit is more abstract than God for me.  And more foreign.  We learn a lot about the Holy Spirit and I feel I have experienced the Holy Spirit, but nonetheless it is puzzling to me and many others.

The thing is, with God in the picture and the Holy Spirit in us, we are changed.  And some of those changes impact our desires.  We act in certain ways because we “want to” not because we “have to.”  I think that has an effect on our overall attitudes and the finer aspects of behavior.

The whole “want to” side of things is not just with the apparent faith based items, but with life.  When you are doing things you enjoy, when you are acting in faith, I think your demeanor changes and the way you do things changes.  For the better.  Because it isn’t just you going through the motions.  And it isn’t just you doing something because of an obligation.  It is doing something because of a deeper desire or drive.

Now, I am not saying I don’t do things because “I have to.”  I think we all do that.  And sometimes you have to do somethings.  But, I think we do need to look at why we do things and our motivation.  And maybe seek motivation from the Holy Spirit.  His direction can impact our attitude and our approach to doing things.  It is definitely easier to do things with help.

6 thoughts on “Have to or want to?

  1. and as a former hard core people pleaser myself, believe me, I am a lot slower to do something just because it is expected of me. It took me years to get to the place where I was able to graciously say “thanks but I am going to pass” My mom told me on Friday I “should” get up and mingle @ a party we were hosting for my dad’s 80’s birthday….would you believe I just sat there even after mom put the guilt trip on me 😉 Told my wife later,, that guilt and shame stuff don’t work on me any more..like water off a ducks back.

  2. Great post! The Holy Spirit is amazing but mysterious. By the way, I’ve always been taught that “He” has a distinct personality and is not an it or a thing.

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