What Motivates a Man? Written by: Aaron Welch, LMHC, NCC

I’m sure that many of you who are reading this would LOVE to answer the question of what makes a man do what he does. I would dare say that this is a burning question in the hearts of many of those readers who might be, well...........of another gender. Just as men often question why females act the way they do, women have to wonder why on earth the men they love handle life in the strange and mysterious ways they do. Certainly, there are many facets and underlying factors in what drives a man to pursue life in a particular manner. I mean, we’re truly not the simpletons we are painted out to be, are we? (Notice I am now writing in 1st person, as I fit into the “male” category). Actually, “simple” is the last way I would describe my fellow comrades. In being truthful, every man is different and every man is unique; each of us develop our ways of coping from a combination of natural temperament and the environmental factors we were exposed to as we developed. It would not be fair for me to say that “every” man is motivated in the same way. HOWEVER (you knew that was coming, didn’t you?), I do believe that there are some common factors between us.

In my research and experience in working with men of all ages, I see a common thread of a man’s need to do something important or to be something significant. I believe that, deep down, every man wants to make a difference; to even be considered GREAT in some way.

General George Armstrong Custer said it plainly: “In years long-numbered with the past, when I was verging upon manhood, my every thought was ambitious-not to be wealthy, not to be learned, but to be great. I desired to link my name with acts and men, and in such a manner as to be a mark of honor-not only to the present, but to future generations.”

In the excellent western mini-series, “Centenniel”, McKeag asked the great trapper Pasquinel, why he was so obsessed with finding gold in the mountains of the new country. McKeag wondered why Pasquinel couldn’t just be satisfied with the beauty of the untamed wilderness. Pasquinel’s response? He said he searched so diligently for the gold because he wanted to be more than he already was. He wanted to be more than just “Pasquinel the Trapper”.

Although “greatness” means different things to different men, I do believe that most men deeply long to be significant in their own eyes and to those around them. Even Jesus’ disciples fought over who would be the greatest in the kingdom; they argued over who would sit at Jesus’ right and left hand in heaven. Whether men pursue wealth, power, fame, or just to be known as having the nicest lawn in their neighborhood, something drives us to be greater than we already are.

But what actually makes a man great? This is a very difficult question to address. However, it is a very pertinent question; one that is worthwhile both in asking and in the pursuit of an answer. I cannot answer this question fully at this time. However, I believe that Jesus set us on the proper course. Jesus taught that, to be great, means to be less. He said that it is the last who will be first. How confusing! Doesn’t this go against all of the ideas of “greatness” that we are exposed to in our culture? Well, in a way it is but I believe that it is not as different as I once believed.

I believe that true greatness comes when a man is in intimate relationship with God. I don’t mean that he knows ABOUT God. I don’t mean that he simply talks to God. I mean.......I believe a man will make a significant mark on our world when he learns how to truly KNOW God. I love the book, “The Papa Prayer” by Larry Crabb. He does a wonderful job of challenging the ways we view prayer in our society. Most of our prayers involve thanking God for things that we wanted and that actually occurred or our prayers have to do with asking God for lots of different things; both the godly things and the selfish things. His premise is that the goal of prayer should be relational, not petitionary. He convincingly argues that prayer should be about knowing God intimately, listening to Him more than talking ourselves, and allowing God to powerfully work through our lives and into the lives of others. When we know God, we are able to hear His voice, know His will for our lives, and pursue those plans with confidence. It does not mean life will be easy. On the contrary, with greatness OFTEN comes adversity. It is naive for us to read about the great men of history and only focus on their moment of greatness. Almost always, enormous hardship is an integral part of the lives of those men. The truth is that we want the “greatness” without the “hardship”. This is an unrealistic expectation and often leads to men who are disillusioned when the rough moments do come (and they will). In fact, when men face hardship and adversity and persevere through them it sets up a great backdrop to the victory that God brings later.

I truly believe this: that men who give themselves totally in relationship to God, can expect the Lord to lead them into paths of great adventure, great trials, and great significance. It is when we want to maintain our own control of our lives and refuse to submit to the Lord’s will, that we forfeit our best opportunity for greatness. God wants to use us in His plans for this world. He desires men who are willing to face the dangers and difficulties of this world. He searches for men who want to know Him intimately and let Him take control. Look at what he did with the apostles. Were their lives easy? Ummm........no. Were they always comfortable? No. But they were the catalyst for a movement that truly changed the world. They were great men.

Guys: greatness and comfort rarely go together. God wants to know each of you. He wants to know me in a way I’ve never let Him. He wants to use us to be significant in His kingdom. He won’t force any of us to do this. But he invites us to come. And, although I have been a poor example of a man who would let God all the way in, I desire to become that man. I want to know God and be able to hear His voice like Moses did, or David did, or Paul. I want to know Him so well that I can courageously face whatever He has in store for me. I want to be known as a “friend of God”.

Do you know why? Because, secretly, I want to be great. Shhhhhh.........don’t tell.

About the Author: Aaron Welch is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor who has devoted his life to reaching out and helping people to grow and mature through difficult life situations. Whether it has been through clinical counseling, pastoral ministry, youth camps and conventions, public speaking, leadership training, educational instruction, athletic coaching or small group ministry, Aaron has over eighteen years of experience in assisting people through life struggles and personal growth. His genuine love for people and his outgoing personality combine to create a safe and caring environment for putting the pieces of life back together

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