rebelling against low expectations

Why do you do what you do?


Humans are different. That’s just how it is. Physically, mentally, and emotionally, we’re all unique. Everyone carries specific needs, wants, attributes, and darknesses that lie beneath our skins.

Despite all of humanity’s differences, however, we have one simple question that ties us together, connecting the murderer to the meek and the peasant to the prince. It is the question detectives ask themselves when picking apart a case. It is the question we ask when something gets lost. It’s the question we should be asking ourselves every day.

What is the motive?

Why would he abduct that girl? If you were me, where would you put my phone and why? Why would you wear that? Why would you choose that? Why, why, why. The words “why” and “motive” go hand in hand.

Motives are more important to us than we realize. Lurking in your subconscious, they push you towards certain actions and decisions, whether you are aware of their identities and presence or not.

Motives control everything we do, from purchasing items to choosing colleges to deciding whether we will speak up or stay silent. They are subtle but powerful, and can be easily influenced by the enemy.

It’s amazing, really, the difference an action can have if the motives behind it are corrupted.

For an example, in Luke 18:9-14, Jesus told a parable about a worldly-renowned religious leader, a Pharisee, and a worldly-despised tax collector, both praying. It was the same action to the same God, so why did Jesus criticize the Pharisee?

The Pharisee wasn’t praying because he wanted to talk to God — not really. I’m sure if you asked the Pharisee, he would be quick to rebuff you. “Of course I want to talk to God!” I can imagine him saying. “I’m a Pharisee. God’s what I specialize in.”

But if you examine his motives, they tell a completely different story. He was really praying for attention, for selfish glory and gain. He wanted earthly praise, not a meaningful connection with heaven.

The tax collector, however, wanted God. He wanted forgiveness, salvation, change, and he got it. It was fundamentally the same action, yet made so very different by the motives behind their prayers.

Another, more modern example is the social media phenomenon that has swept the globe. You guessed it — the “selfie”.

We’ve all taken one, don’t lie. But what are your reasons behind your selfie taking?

Is it because you want someone to find you attractive, cool, etcetera? Is it because everyone else takes selfies, and you don’t want to be excluded? Is it because you crave compliments? Or is it because you visited the Grand Canyon, or you just got braces, or your little brother is turning six and you are sharing a picture of you two together?

Same thing, really. It just depends on motives.

You’re dating someone, but is it because you are looking forward to marriage and believe this person to be the one? Or is it because you’re lonely and you want to fit in?

You’re hanging out with a certain group of friends. Is it because they’re the popular ones? Do you genuinely like them, or are you just convincing yourself that you do?

You have to be careful. Motives are often the tipping point between sin and devastation, and holiness and peace.

That boyfriend or girlfriend could leave you with your heart in the dirt and regrets you never planned on having. That group of friends could leave you with a ruined life, addicted to drugs or alcohol.

We make major choices that change our entire lives based on people or situations that may be nonexistent within a year.

We give our hearts naively away to someone, and then within a little time they’re gone, and we’re left with a bad scar.

We cave in to peer pressure and then, years later, we’re still paying the price for that hastily-made decision, while those original friends have long since been out of our lives.

Why? Because of one, powerful, driving thing.


Are your motives pure? Right? God-honoring? Selfless? Examine your reasons behind what you do and let the Holy Spirit do His beautiful work.

You must be careful you don’t be dishonest with yourself, though. It’s far too easy to do that with motives — to rationalize the truth into what you want it to be, which, all in all, is just a pretty lie.

But, you’ll find that if you search your soul, scrape off the shell surrounding your motives and allow the Holy Spirit to replace the bad with the good, your life will be changed for the better.

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Photo courtesy of Lauren Rushing and Flickr Creative Commons.


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About the author

Rebekah Black

is a 16-year-old from western Pennsylvania with a deep passion for stories. When she is not wrangling three younger brothers into submission or procrastinating on the Internet, you are likely to find her singing along to a musical's soundtrack or grinning like the Cheshire Cat about character development.


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  • A fanatasic article, Rebekah! I was just reading this morning in Proverbs 27, where it says “As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man. (verse 19)” Our motives reflect who we are, and who we are becomes the reflection to the world of who God is (2 Corinthians 3:2-3, 5:20). Our actions count, but our motives are key! If we pursue Christ, He can change our motives to be like His. Again, a very good and necessary article!

  • Excellent article! I’ll be thinking about this article the next time I take a selfie. 🙂

    You even have to check your motives when you’re commenting – am I commenting because I want to help others or because I want to be popular and my comment to be seen by a bunch of people? *he he*

  • WOW that was an amazing article well done Rebekah that was something i needed to hear and the whole world needs to hear!! it really inspired me a lot thank you so much Rebekah. and you have to check your motives everywhere even when your reading a book!
    God Bless,

  • Nothing like an extremely well written article with a point that hits close to home. I’ve recently been seriously rethinking my motives in life concerning a lot of things. I haven’t been doing really anything for the right reasons recently. I needed this encouragement today to do better for the glory of God, so thank you very much, Rebekah. #ouch

  • Great article Rebekah! Motives are very important when considering the things I choose to do.Thanks for your thoughts! Keep writing 🙂

  • Amazing article! I’ve been thinking about the reasons behind what I do a lot lately, so this was timely! Made me think even more :). Thanks Rebekah!

    P.S. – Did anyone else get cross-eyed when they read the title “Why Do You Do What You Do”?? I was like…”Why I Do What…wait…What Do I Do….” Lol :).

  • I have actually been thinking a lot about this lately. And your article really brought everything together, I guess. It is sooo important for your motives to be in the right place, and I know I need to pay more attention to why I do what I do. And your examples were right on, too. Thanks Rebekah!

  • When you think about it, it is interesting how we make 100’s of decisions (small but decisions nonetheless) every day yet we rarely stop to think why or how we made them… Hmm this is a article to think upon.

  • Motives; such a relevant topic that is often neglected. We must always be checking our motives to make sure that His glory is the reason for that which we do.

    So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
    -1 Corinthians 10:31

  • Just read this comment referring back to a famous teacher “He urged his students to examine the springs of their conduct, to note the impulses that led them out of confusion into moral order, and to resist the seeds of evil and cultivate the growth of goodness”

  • Wow this article really hit home for me. A lot of times I like to buy nice, “classy” things because they “have good quality”. Well, not totally. Last year I bought a pair of Beats Solo2 headphones under the guise of good audio quality. I do like the pumped-up bass that Beats offers, but I also bought them because they’re cool and (hopefully) I look awesome with a pair around my neck. I can tend to be an insecure person so I really need to evaluate my motives when I buy something – and please the Lord more than people. Great article, keep up the good work!

    • Thank you! I’m glad the article made you think. I’m with you – I’ll find myself doing things just because they’re “cool”, so it looks like both of us will have to work on that 😉

    • Yeah I tend to do that too. Sometimes I buy in style clothes not necessarily because I personally like that style but because I want to impress. And a lot of times I do it without even realizing my motive! But to go off topic, I’ve actually been thinking about buying Beats headphones ’cause of the quality. Was it worth the buy?

      • I would say for me that I try to align my tastes with what’s “cool” so I don’t have to buy stuff that I don’t like…so I think it’s cool and (hopefully) others think it’s cool, too. To answer you question, Beats are well made ‘phones. They’re durable and have decent audio – amped up on the bass side but I kinda like that, especially for dubstep! They’re pretty pricey because of the cool factor, though. I have the Solo2 which is the bottom of the line but they’re a lot like the Studio. If you really want Beats the Solo2 is probably the way to go but you could probably do better with the same amount of money. Maybe this link will help you…

        • Haha that sounds like a plan: align my tastes with the “cool” stuff so I can get away with buying the trends and not feel too bad :). Some of the “in” stuff right now is actually my taste, but it changes all the time…and I feel like girls’ trends are a little more far out there (in a bad sorta way) than guys’ (if that makes any sense :)). ANYWAY…looks like I might be buying the Solo2 soon, they look pretty sweet ;).

          • Lol I get it. If you buy the Solo2 be warned that the “grey” color is more of a blue-grey. I don’t know if you can tell that from my profile pic from Annalysa’s blog but it is 🙁 If I would of known that I probably would of gotten the black instead. Just so you know 🙂

          • Yeah it looks like a baby blue. But there’s also one in “stone grey” that looks more grey…I don’t know if that’s the one you were talking about. I would probably get the red ones anyway. I just noticed that you look A LOT like my brother, so much it’s almost creepy :).

          • They must of come out with the stone grey after I got my headphones, I didn’t know that the stone grey even existed. That’s funny about your brother, I still think your family is somehow related to mine 🙂

  • Amen, Rebekah! Thank you so much for this… I definitely struggle with impure motives. Am I saying xyz just to fit in and be funny, or do I really mean it? Something to think about.. and then act on! (And thank you so much for pointing out the selfie thing… I’m not the only one who thinks that?!?!)

  • Thanks, Rebekah 🙂
    Your article is very true, we are controlled by our motives in EVERYTHING, and our motives do need to be checked against God’s Word to keep them pure. This was a great post, because it applies to us all (and reminds us again, we tend to forget a lot don’t we!?!). Thanks again! 🙂

  • Yes! This is so true!

    I personally have found it helpfu over the years to constantly ask myself that question of “what is my motive?” before making large and small decisions. It can be such a lifesaver to “stop and think” before acting!

    I know… “but what about when you have to make that split-second decision?” Well, the truth is… “most of the time it only takes a split-second to answer the ‘why’ behind what you’re about to do!”

  • Thanks for the great post, Rebekah!

    “We make major choices that change our entire lives based on people or situations that may be nonexistent within a year.”

    What a true statement! Convicting. Something we all need to think about when making big decisions.

  • Amazing article Rebekah!!!
    It really gets you thinking about the choices you’ve
    made in the past, deciding if they where right or wrong.


    What a word

          • I found the book Do Hard Things at a store a few days ago and thought it looked interesting, so I got it. I just finished it today and really like it. I also LOVE this blog and can’t wait to get involved with the community here.

          • The community here is great! I’ve been on here… oh, let’s see… almost two months now, and the folks on here are awesome!

            If you like this site, you’ll probably also like the site “Soldiers of God”. It’s got a lot of the same community, and I spend about as much time on there as I do on here. If you want to check it out, here’s the link.

            There’s a post on there called “What do you want to talk about” (under popular posts on the right side of the page) where people talk about random things. I’d love to get to know you better if you want talk over there. I don’t want to start spamming this post, if you know what I mean.

          • No problem! I get parents not wanting you to be on another site; this is the first site I was on myself 🙂

          • Wait you’ve only been on the site for 2 months? I’ve only been on for a month and a half and you have like 10 times the comments I do. 😛 Don’t take that the wrong way though. 🙂

          • LOL…take a look at the “comments” thing on the right side underneath “recent,” where it says like “Josh A on Why do you do what you do” or whatever, it’s almost all you. 😛 But that’s fine your comments are good. 🙂

          • Yeah, it is almost all me, isn’t it? I decided that because I have a snow day, I would let myself be on here for a while… normally I’m not on here for this long at one time 🙂 And thanks!

          • Luckyyyyyy I’m here studying for a test tomorrow that I was hoping was going to get snowed out, but down in Georgia it like never snows so 🙁

            So are you public schooled? Or are your parents just letting you take a day off?

          • So in Wisconsin, are there, like, four seasons? BC in Georgia there’s summer for six months, fall for a week (if you’re lucky), winter for five months, then there’s a week or two for spring. 😛

          • Lol 🙂 I get four seasons where I am, but most of the people I know wish we didn’t have winter. (How can anyone not like winter??)

          • My town almost never gets any snow. This winter we only had like two days where it snowed. It’s sad.

          • Lol 🙂 I lived in tourist town for a while, where the two seasons were:
            1. After Memorial Day (Tourists)
            2.. After Labor Day (No Tourists)
            We also called tourists Fudgies because they loved to buy fudge for some reason…

          • here in Northwest Washington we’ve got two seasons, fall and spring. It never gets cold enough for winter or hot enough for summer. 🙂

          • Well, turns out I only had a halfway-snowday, so I should have been studying for my own test this afternoon… I’ll be studying late this afternoon. What’s your test on? Mine is science.
            I’m homeschooled, but “real snow” (more than flurries) is so rare around here that we normally get off the first day with snow. My parents made a special exception for today and made it a half-off day.

          • Well you asked me a simple question but I’m afraid I have to give a complicated answer… 😛

            NERD fact #1: I’m 15, almost 16 and should be a sophomore, but I’m a year ahead so I’m a junior.

            NERD fact #2: I’m doing dual enrollment (which is where you take classes at a college that count for college AND double high school credit).

            NERD fact #3: I’m taking an Italian class (among others) because Italian is the “language of music” and it will help with my piano playing.

            That being said, my test is in Italian. 🙂

          • Luckyyyyyyy on NERD facts #2 and #3. #1 I could be if I wanted, but after high school I would be going away to college, and leaving home at 17 is a slightly terrifying idea.
            I get to dual-enroll next year! Wish I could this year, but the colleges around here will only take juniors and seniors 🙁 (Is there a frustrated emoticon? Cause I’d use it here). And I hope to take Italian, as I love all languages I’ve had exposure to, so long as it isn’t English.
            How many classes are you taking?

          • Well you take different classes each semester, so this semester I’m in Statistics, Italian, US government, and American History. 🙂

          • And yeah it is slightly terrifying but I don’t think I’ll be going anywhere far away for school – I’m thinking about being an engineer and the top 2 schools on my list are both within driving distance.

          • No, I’m basically just taking a year off. There are things I’d like to do that I haven’t had time for, so it won’t be like I’m just sitting around the house all day, haha. Are you going to graduate early as well? (And did I understand your question correctly? I was a tad bit confused, lol)

          • I can graduate early if I do it right. But I want to go to the Naval Academy or West Point so if I Graduated early I’d begin at West Point the day after I turn 17. My dad really doesn’t want me going into the military as a 17 year old so he’s going to let me do some classes at community collage to make up for it. Then I can graduate at 18 with a few collage credits.

          • Yes, you understood me correctly, lol :). No, I’m not graduating early, I just feel like a gap year might be a good option while I sort out what I want to do for college. Plus, there’s so many great gap year programs out there that teach lots of life skills and offer great community and ministry opportunities, which I think would be a plus before I jump into more education.

          • That’s one of the few benefits of a public school. I’m a freshman and next year’ll be taking 2 APs and 1 CC, which is basically a full on college class, but at the high school. Plus after that they’ll pay for any college courses I take at local universities during my high school years.

          • Wait… you’re a sophomore? I thought you had to be older… Shows how the Myth of Adolescence has pervaded my thinking!

          • Try to be Yoda you should not. Use bad grammar you do. “Try to use the Memory Eraser” correct is. (Fried brain sounds like a Yoda food…)

          • Mmmm fried brain I like yesss mmmm hehehehehe. “try to be Yoda you should not” said you mmm but there is no try only do hehehehe……and only one Yoda there is yesss….

          • Try to be you should not. Be you should not. Anything regarding Yoda you should not. Dangerous power is.

          • Sorry I can’t resist the temptation of being Yoda any longer…the dark side is too strong for me…resist I can not…turning into Yoda I am mmm yess hehehehehe 😉

          • Whoa, you’re fifteen and dual enrolling? *high five* I might dual enroll next year, my senior year, but even then it seems rather daunting. How do you handle the workload? Is it really overbearing?

          • – Yes
            – I’ve always been given a degree of freedom with schoolwork and stuff so it’s not been that hard…I don’t do anything unusual – my university has a website that lists all your assignments and stuff
            -YES 🙂 but it’ll be worth it I think

          • Last semester, I went in for classes four days a week but this semester I only have classes on Monday and Wednesday – but I’m there for most of the day. :-/

  • “In His Steps” by Charles M. Sheldon has a good bit to say on this. 🙂 Has anybody on here read it? Pretty straight forward book. Quite a thought provoking article though. Keep up the good comments everybody!

          • Oh speaking of which, I got Mere Christianity and am going to read it as soon as I finish C.T Studd! 🙂

          • You bought the book? I would have borrowed it from the library first myself 🙂 I hope you like it – C. S. Lewis is one of my favorite apologetic authors of all time, and he’s one of my favorite theological/Christian life authors of all time, too!
            Speaking of which, I will probably be getting Lord Foulgrin’s Letters soon from the library 🙂

          • Haha no, I asked my sister and she had it, so I’m borrowing it from her. 🙂 I think I will, he’s one of my favorites as well. Oh cool, hope you enjoy it! 🙂

          • I think I read that one (or one of his others) and just a word of warning: his theology is majorly messed up…he believes that babies go through evolutionary cycles in the womb and a big part of one of his books was supporting the Tao. :-/

          • Ooooh, I might have to debate you on that 😉
            But come to think of it, he was an outspoken atheist before he became a Christian. Might you have read one of his earlier books? I don’t know if he wrote before his conversion. I’ve always found his theology to be sound, so far as I’ve read.

          • No it was one of the popular ones, either Mere Christianity or something else…it’s been a while since I’ve read it though.

          • Hmmm, I’ll have to read through Mere Christianity again and see if I can find what you saw.
            Would you mind clarifying what he wrote about babies in the womb, please? And I have no idea what the Tao is… would you please enlighten me?

          • Dictionary definition of Tao is: (in Chinese philosophy) the absolute principle underlying the universe, combining within itself the principles of yin and yang and signifying the way, or code of behavior, that is in harmony with the natural order. The interpretation of Tao in the Tao-te-Ching developed into the philosophical religion of Taoism.

            I don’t remember what he said exactly, but I think he was referencing a bogus theory that was popular at the time that stated that babies went through an evolutionary cycle while in the womb – starting out looking like an amphibian, then “evolving” to become human. :-/ Don’t quote me on that though, I’m sure you could find out more if you googled it.

          • Thanks, I’ll re-read the books I have and see what I might have missed. Thanks for the warning!

    • Yes! I have… But it seemed like fiction at first… Then it felt like no one I knew took the book seriously… Then the WWJD craze hit! And it was then I realised, we as a culture, are trying to fit Jesus into it. Like our culture is an accommodation for our brand of christianity…
      The whole of the New Testament is considered canonical. Inspired by God and accurately so! It is a description of, ” how then should we live”? And why!
      What we must not do is confuse culture with concession!! i.e…. “We don’t do it that way” vs. ” we can’t do it that way”. We CAN do what The Lord’s will commands… We will do what what our faith allows!! (Or lack thereof).
      In Luke chpt. 14 Jesus clearly tells those desiring to follow Him what it will take. He tells us that… before we try to follow… We must stop and ask, “can we do what He demands?”.

      • Yeah, I know what you mean. Exactly, I think it’s kinda crazy that the people in that Church (and in today’s) call themselves Christians, yet there was such a great degree of difference in how they had lived than when they lived as true Christians should: lining up their actions, thoughts, etc with how Christ would walk. I think it’s very convicting and challenging. I’d encourage every Christian to read it and apply it to their daily lives. Because, quite frankly, it’s probably gonna make a visible difference if you try your best to aply it to your day-to-day lives. 🙂 Going under the banner of a Christian is no light thing, as I’m seeing lately.

      • Great! When you look back, do you think it made a significant or insignificant change? Granted, I know there’s some who before even reading this, understood from the Bible that this was a commandment to all Christians. Oh! You live in Pittsburgh! Sweet! I live about an hour south of Harrisburg. 🙂

          • What town? We should meet up? Do you know where Penn View Bible Institute is? I live in the Mifflinburg, Middleburg, New Berlin area. Do you know where any of those towns are?

          • Hmm, from those towns, it seems like you live an hour north of Harrisburg. For a minute there, I thought we might have been next-door neighbors…. 🙂 Still cool though!

          • So, do you know the town Broadway? My church’s guest speaker for today is from there 🙂

          • Haha Well I travel a bit. I’ve probably been to about 20 of the 50 states. And sorry my reply took so long, I just got back this morning from a Bus and Outreach convention in Indiana. But it was SOO awesome! haha And yes I am! I promise. lol

          • Cool 🙂 I’ve lived in more states than most people I know, but I haven’t been to many more.
            It’s okay, you’re no later than I am right now… And you are what? Missed that somehow 🙁

          • Yeah, well that’s true enough! 😛 haha I’m from Pennsylvania. 🙂

        • Well, I had already known (and attempted to put into practice) the WWJD movement, but In His Steps was great in showing me people who actually did it, not just wear a bracelet with the letters on it or something. 🙂 ooh, Harrisburg! I must admit, I’ve never been there, though I’d like to go sometime. Have you ever been to Pittsburgh?

          • Yeah, same here. Mhm, though it’s slightly out-dated it’s still very relevant and deals with the same issues of today. Yep. And no I haven’t! But my entire family are Stealers fans. 🙂 lol Is it nice there? I generally don’t like cities but sometimes it’s nice to get a nice Hotel and doing fun stuff while waiting for your airport time to come or waiting to be picked up. 🙂

          • Ironically, my family and I are indifferent to the Steelers – we’re more Mountaineers fans. 🙂 and it depends on what season you’re in, to be honest (I know a lot of people here are not big fans of winter, haha), but since you live in Harrisburg, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. But as for the city, the city itself is very nice. I haven’t been to many cities, but Pittsburgh seems to me to be very well taken care of. It’s full of a ton of history, too, and nice theaters.

          • Haha gotcha. 🙂 And yep, sure do. But actually I don’t live IN Harrisburg, just near there. Ahh, sounds nice. Yeah I’ve been to a couple, like Philadelphia and a handful of others. Gotta say, Indianapolis is my all-time least favorite city! So depressing!!! 😛 lol

          • Noooo! How can you live in Pittsburgh and not be a Steelers fan? Seriously though, I was there for the wild card game last January and I found it to be a great place too. I’ve heard that the city’s population is declining, is that true?

  • Really great article, Rebekah! It pretty sums up all the problems we have: what was the motive? What was the reason? Why did it happen? And it’s not necessarily a person who has motive, God always has a ‘motive’ (more of a reason) as well.
    Your article also drives home the point of trying to look at a situation from a different perspective. If you look at it differently, maybe you’ll see the motive, or the reason why God did something.
    Thanks so much for writing! 🙂

  • I may have thought about my motives once or twice in my life, but never in this light. Thank you for sharing your perspective for it surely helped mine! Sometimes I am more sensitive (and most of the times, doubtful) of others’ motives, and yet I fail to evaluate my own thinking. This really shook me up a bit. :]

By Rebekah Black
rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →