Help! I Can’t Get Motivated Interview

November 16, 2011

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The BCC Author Interview Q & A with Adam Embry

As part of our BCC vision, we want to help you to get to know gifted Christian authors and their books. This week we’re highlighting Adam Embry as he talks about his booklet Help! I Can’t Get Motivated. His booklet is part of the series Living in a Fallen World.

BCC: “What motivated you to write a booklet on motivation?”

AE: “The idea for this book came from Brian Croft who authored Help! He's Struggling with Pornography. I serve as a pastor with Brian, and he recommended turning a sermon I did on laziness into a book for the Living in a Fallen World series. I’ve also counseled several Christians on this issue. It’s a topic many people don’t normally think about in relation to counseling, but we live in a culture that breeds opportunities for laziness. This topic isn’t just for the depressed who are unable to find motivation or for the overly ambitious wanting to get a Christian perspective on productivity. Throughout church history laziness (sloth) was identified as one of the seven deadly sins. I think Christians work hard (by grace!) to guard against the lust of the eyes, the greed of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16), but we can neglect seeing how laziness is detrimental and sinful. Yet sadly, don’t we know the saying, ‘Idle hands are the devil’s playground?’ all too often proves true in our lives?”

BCC: “In your approach, how important do you think it is to identify laziness or lack of motivation as a sin issue?”

AE: “It’s quite important to identify laziness as a sin since the consequences of laziness negatively impact our relationship with others, our well-being, and our eternal destiny. In the booklet, I go through each of the five consequences the book of Proverbs list as consequences for living unmotivated. Ultimately, God made us to be workers and representatives of His creative glory on earth. This is why we’re called image bearers. Failure to live productively is then a failure to live as the creatures we’re made to be. Nothing less than God’s glory is at stake when we live lazily and refuse to be motivated.”

BCC: “Tell our readers how you examined the Bible’s teaching on laziness and lack of motivation.”

AE: “My booklet grew out of a sermon on Proverbs 24:30-34. What’s important about this passage is the description of the lazy individual’s land being overcome with thorns. One of the principles of interpreting biblical texts is to examine what Scripture says on a certain topic elsewhere throughout Scripture. We call this task biblical theology. In this instance, the key idea is what happened to the lazy person’s land: it’s overcome by thorns. We know from Genesis 3:17-18 that part of the curse Adam brought on the world is that he would no longer labor in a luscious garden but in terrain overtaken by thorns. So, to look at the lazy individual in Proverbs 24 is to look at a person overcome by the curse of sin. After establishing that laziness is a vivid picture of the curse of sin as found in the Garden of Eden, I looked at all the passages in Proverbs that describe unmotivated individuals and the consequences of laziness to create the principles found in my booklet. Essentially, I established a biblical theology of laziness to create a biblical counseling application for motivation.”

BCC: “How does lack of motivation impact our different roles and jobs in life?”

AE: “Laziness doesn’t discriminate based on gender, gender roles, ethnicity, age, or job title. This is why I have a description of how laziness impacts husbands, fathers, wives, working mothers, stay-at-home mothers, students, singles, the elderly, and retired. Each of us needs to be on our guard against the sin of laziness no matter who we are or what our vocation is. One of the related issues to how laziness impacts our jobs is a faulty understanding of work. First, many people have a negative view of work and don’t understand that God created us to work. Second, many people have a medieval view of work which divorced the sacred and secular. Ministry was considered a sacred vocation, whereas secular jobs were less significant. I deal with this faulty thinking in my book and let several Reformers give us some corrective advice. Luther had the correct perspective when he wrote, ‘Housework has no obvious appearance of holiness, yet these very household chores are more to be valued than all the works of monks or nuns.’”

BCC: “What’s the solution for finding motivation and defeating laziness?”

AE: “The solution is the gospel. Jesus came to reverse the curse of sin and, connected to that, to reverse our foolish behavior. Christ redeems us from our sin and enables us to obey His commands and find the biblical motivation to live for His Father’s glory. Christ also becomes our wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30-31). Practically, this works itself out in our lives as we seek to live productively for God as a response to grace and live productively to help others. One of the negative consequences we rarely consider is how our laziness harms others. Paul dealt with this in the Thessalonian church on several occasions (1 Thessalonians 4:9-12; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-12). Being lazy means we put a burden on others to care for our needs when we should be working to help others. Yet, there is hope because union with Christ means sin can be defeated and we can live wisely.”

BCC: “What are some of the practical helps that your booklet offers?”

AE: “I’ve crafted personal application questions for husbands, fathers, wives, mothers, students, singles, the elderly, and retired. The application questions are designed for us to examine our hearts to see the areas where godly change needs to occur. Some of the questions related to marriage and parenting require you to ask your spouse where he or she thinks you are unmotivated. I also offer practical advice on keeping a schedule, understanding leisure time, and give a challenging word to perfectionists.”

BCC: “Who should read your booklet and why?”

AE: “Everyone! I think this book is flexible enough to be useful for the different groups of individuals that cover the human spectrum: men, women, married, single, young, and old. One of the strange things about laziness is that it’s one of the few sins that actually breeds other sins. Temptations for sexual sin often occur when we’re lazy and not doing what we’re supposed to. Consider David’s adultery. The text states that kings went off to war, yet we find David hanging out at home (2 Samuel 11). Or, consider how we waste time stewing over a bad conversation with someone and end up having sinful anger. Laziness gives others sins in our heart a change to grow. Proverbs illustrates the two primary excuses lazy individuals make: procrastination and fearing the risk of hard work. If you find yourself making these excuses or know someone who does, this book is for you or your friend.”

BCC: “Thanks, Adam, for telling us more about your book and this important biblical counseling life issue.” 

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