Mixed Motives


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

I’m an idealist. I want (earnest cliché 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 and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to Mixed Motives

  1. lol…as usual, you put just the right amount of spin of the subject. Whoops! Don’t let that compliment go to your head.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Mitch I’m not sure we ever get totally rid of the ego. I like that you put your thoughts down. I am impressed because I really like your name it’s catchy and reminds me of an action reporter. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So true…none of us is truly altruistic. If we were, we would be God. The best we can hope for is to die to self and let the Spirit fill us. Those things done under His tutelage will initiate in Him and truly bear fruit. Alas, we will be fighting with the flesh until it is, at last put under six feet of dirt!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. We all sure do go through this exact cycle, don’t we! I enjoyed a good laugh at your takeoff on C. S. Lewis’ wise words and then I laughed and got on with my day–reminded to keep working on that elusive quest to walk humbly with my God! Thank you!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. LOL… oh, how I wish I couldn’t relate but, alas, I do! In all humility, of course! 😂🤣😅

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Philippians 1:15-18 are a healthy reminder for us. As my friend Jeremiah wrote, “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who can understand it?” Thus, knowing our human nature, God has entrusted His message to us. Paul nails when he wrote, what really matters is that the name of Jesus is proclaimed (Phil 1:15-18). Good reminder, Mitch. Thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Nancy Ruegg says:

    You’re right, Mitch. This side of heaven we’ll probably never completely shake the desire to impress. Turning pride into praise to God can be helpful. After all, all good gifts come from him (James 1:17) including our good deeds, good ideas, good talents, good work, etc. And then we can top off the praise with a good laugh–at the brashness of being prideful in the first place!

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I feel exactly the same way! The Screwtape Letters would probably be good for me to read.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Bill Sweeney says:

    So true, Mitch. I can relate, my friend 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. mitchteemley says:

    Hard to imagine, Bill: you (and Mary) deserve so much praise for your courage and faithful witness to others.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Mira Fahlan says:

    I absolutely loved this. Thanx for the laugh

    Liked by 1 person

  12. A catch 22 situation. Loved the post.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. You have really hit on one of the delicious but enraging contradictions of our human psyche, Mitch. Seems there is a hardware-level predisposition to DOMINATE built in to the human being — just as there is a, seemingly inordinate, drive to PROCREATE. A lot of “character-building” comes from exercising our will to control these two drives. It’s God’s Planet-Fitness, free of charge to join and nothing per month.
    One must show-up at the gym every day, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mitchteemley says:

      So true. And very effectively described, Vernon.


      • After I left that comment I read that the Pope has advocated a change in interpreting the translations of the Lord’s Prayer. “…lead us not into temptation…” implies that God is trying to trip us up unless we ask Him not to. As I mentioned above, our physical frame which was necessary for us to compete on this “planet of war,” this physical world, is a gift, a challenge, not an attempt to trip us up. Maybe even beyond an exercise, it was intended to lead us to ask for, and rely on divine help in our overcoming. Overcoming is more than gritting the teeth and persisting, it should be a team effort…you and God.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Should we all just give up now and let the chips stay where the fall? You have touched on the “problem”(?) that may define.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Yup, I understand. What has helped me is to ask myself if God would be pleased with a post, or anything else…and try to let others’ opinions be a little bonus, or food for thought.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. numrhood says:

    romans 32:49-33:01
    teach thee thy ways
    call on to thee
    thou shall answer


  17. smzang says:

    oh! now you’ve done it…that cycle is playing in my head…
    fortunately (or not) a piece of black forest cheese cake
    is beckoning to me from outside myself. To which do I
    succumb? Forget it, I’m going to take a nap.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Ann Coleman says:

    Sadly, I think it is human nature to want to impress. And no matter how much we grow in our faith, there is always that little urge to seek the approval of others and have them think we’re pretty terrific! But no worries, as long as we recognize it and don’t let it rule our lives, we’re good!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. gpavants says:

    Hi Mitch,

    The battle leads us to find that dynamic balance in Christ. Fight the good fight daily,


    Liked by 1 person

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