One thing that I’ve learned over the years is that properly placed belief is one of the most powerful motivating forces in all of the world. Belief, or faith, is far more powerful than fear, or money, or lust, or fame, or pride, or any other common human motivator. For instance, people who truly believe in a cause will go to very great lengths to further that cause. Often, they will risk or give their lives for the furtherance of the cause they believe in. The vast majority of the world’s people would never even think of giving their lives for those things, but they will act on what they believe in.
Whenever I train or teach someone something new, I notice that those who believe in what I’m teaching will follow my instructions to a T. Those that are unsure about what I’m teaching, will usually attempt what I am instructing with only half-hearted fervor. This is true even of myself. Whenever I find myself doing a lackluster job at work, or anywhere else, I almost always notice that I have questioned the worth of what I’m doing. In those moments, I either don’t believe in the job, or I don’t believe in the benefits of the expected outcome, or I don’t believe that what I’m engaged in will be successful. My lack of motivation is rooted in unbelief. Sometimes that unbelief is characterized by an unhealthy dependence on what the rest of the world has influenced me to believe.
This phenomenon is illustrated well in Mark 6:41-52. In that passage the disciples see Jesus miraculously feed 5000 men with only 5 loaves of bread and two fish. By the way, since ancient societies only counted men, the crowd was probably much, much larger – perhaps greater than 20,000. After the miracle, Jesus sent the disciples to a town on the other side of the Sea of Galilee while he goes to pray. Later in the evening, the men are struggling against the wind in their boat. Jesus takes note and approaches them by walking on the water. They all saw him, but they didn’t recognize him. Instead, they saw him as a ghost, even though they’d just seen him perform an amazing miracle. They were terrified, but Jesus tells them to take heart as he identifies himself, and steps into their boat. The wind ceased.
Take heart, he told them. To do this, believe that God is in control, that he works miracles, and that he wastes no event to further his good purposes. If you are able to do this, your struggle will not be as difficult because you will recognize Jesus when you see him! However, if you don’t take heart and believe, then you will be like those disciples in the last verse (Mark 6:52). Their hearts were hardened even though they had just seen a multitude miraculously fed, and a man walking on water.