How to Determine Others Motivations

It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice…

Phil 1:15-18

The meeting quickly dissolved into what someone meant three months ago. The team was working through a problem, and the notes from the previous meeting didn’t quite make sense on what the next step was. So, when the team came back together, it became a debate about the notetaker’s thought process rather than about what to do about the next step. And, the notetaker wasn’t there. 

I had read these verses from Philippians 1:15-18 earlier in the week. It looked to me like Paul had a similar situation. He knew that there were others who were preaching Christ, some from a place of goodwill, some out of love, and some out of selfish ambition. Out of all that, Paul says, “But what does it matter?” Paul suggests that as long as Christ is the focus, he will rejoice. It’s not often that the ends justify the means, but if it means one more person gets to know Jesus better, then perhaps that’s the best possible outcome. 

During the meeting described above, I took the risk and stepped in. “While trying to determine the motivations and thoughts of our notetaker, perhaps our time is better spent determining where we are going to go from here. The problem is still before us, so let’s tackle that instead.”

When it comes to motivation, the best way to determine another’s motivation is to get curious, or let it go. It’s up to you to decide how critical and important the other’s motivation is; Or, perhaps it’s better to instead look at the demonstrated behavior of those around you and determine if it’s more Christ-like or not. Sometimes we assume others’ motivation but we get no further progress. Get curious or let it go as Paul did. How you do determine other’s motivations? You don’t.

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© 2022, Mollie Bond. All rights reserved. Originally published at

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