Mixed Motives


If it weren’t for mixed motives I’d have no motives at all.

I’m an idealist. I want (earnest cliche alert) to make the world a better place.

But I’m also a hopeless egoist, and no matter what I do I can never completely rid myself of the desire to impress. Argggh!  (Even now, as I write this, a part of me is hoping you’ll be impressed with my “humility”!)

What can be done? If I shift my focus to killing my self-absorption, the effort itself become an act of self-absorption! In C. S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters, a senior demon advises a junior tempter on how to keep humans stuck in this endless cycle:

Catch him at the moment when he is really poor in spirit and smuggle into his mind the gratifying reflection, “By jove! I’m being humble,” and almost immediately pride—pride at his own humility—will appear. If he awakes to the danger and tries to smother this new form of pride, make him proud of his attempt—and so on, through as many stages as you please. But don’t try this too long, for fear you awake his sense of humor and proportion, in which case he will merely laugh at you and go to bed. 

Each time I write, that un-killable cur Ego sits in the corner whining for attention. I can never completely drive him away. But I can refuse to feed him.

My motives are still mixed, but at least the cur grows thinner.

So I check my spelling, hit Publish…

And then laugh and go to bed. 

For further insights, read Romans 7:24-8:1

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Memoir, Quips and Quotes, Writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Mixed Motives

  1. sonniq says:

    Well, I think this makes you an honest-to-goodness human being. while we wrestle with only having the purest of intentions with the ego we wouldn’t have the drive to complete the things we want to do. It’s the people who just plow ahead not caring if they hurt people when they satisfy their desires that we have to be wary of. Starting an election year we are bombarded daily with these kinds of people where satisfaction of their egos at any cost, while telling us that they are only thinking of the people’s best interest – these people we should be afraid of.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kelly Grace says:

    Humility is slipperier to hold on to than a freshly caught trout!
    Charles Spurgeon tells the story of a woman who approached him one Sunday to tell him it what a wonderful sermon he had just delivered. He replied, “I know madam, Satan already told me.”

    Liked by 5 people

  3. dawnlizjones says:

    I LOVE Screwtape! Isn’t it now a play out in New England?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ah, the “ego-system” bubble…comfortable just like the bed after you hit the “Publish” button 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I was going to write something witty but thought, “Ehhh, why bother. He would just think I’m being prideful.” I’m going to bed…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. nanciec13 says:

    Love this–I suffer the same disease😊

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Nancy Ruegg says:

    Such a well-written post, Mitch. Oh. Sorry. I suppose that comment will potentially contribute to prideful thoughts, though I mean it to be an encouragement. Such a frustrating tug-of-war goes on in our spirits, between pride and humility! But I wonder, might it not please our Heavenly Father that we don’t give up the fight?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. These are the very issues we are here to work on.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. mitchteemley says:

    Reblogged this on Mitch Teemley and commented:

    I’m re-posting this because, sadly but humanly, it’s still true.


  10. ekurie says:

    So you’re really no different from any of us… Well, at least you have the guts to admit it… Twice.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. bdeckard92 says:

    Very insightful description of the thin line we walk. Plus I just finished “The Screwtape Letters” and found it to be amazing, I saw myself so much in what Old Screwtape was describing… but by seeing it we can work on it right?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I battle this issue ALL the time too. I so desire to do good things for God and help people – that is my true heart. But my insecure part of me also needs confirmation and affirmation. Sigh!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Reblogged this on 4th Quarter Musings and commented:
    Mitch Teemley says it well. Pride is the downfall of us all. Even being proud of the fact that we’re not proud. Prov 16:18

    Liked by 1 person

  14. @vapor_sage says:

    Well crap, I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t. I’ll just be generous, and grateful, and honest about my intentions and give the glory to God and hopefully be worthy of what I get.
    Thank’s Mitch

    Liked by 1 person

  15. janoslajos says:

    Thanks for sharing, Mitch. I also enjoy C.S. Lewis’ allegorical dream reflection “The Great Divorce,” which addresses how this and other vices might be killed, enabling us to die fully to ourselves and thus come to life in Christ. God Bless!

    Liked by 1 person

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