What motivates you? The answer to this question will determine everything.  It will influence the core of who you are, what you do and how much you accomplish in life.

Our world is full of people motivated by power, influence, money, sex or fame.  The problem with these as the central motivations in life is they are fleeting and insatiable. If you want to stand out from the crowd, make sure you are motivated by something enduring.

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We rejoin the story of Daniel, shortly after the death of King Nebuchadnezzar.  His son, Belshazzar decided to inaugurate his reign with a display of wealth and extravagance.  We read that he “made a great feast for a thousand of his lords” (Daniel 5:1), presumably to make a grand first impression and consolidate his power.   During the gala, he faced an embarrassment of epic proportions.  In the midst of the revelry and celebration, an apparition appeared in the form of human hand, writing on one of the palace walls. Terror filled the king and in full view of the party goers, “the king’s color changed… his limbs gave way, and his knees knocked together” (Daniel 5:6).  Certainly, this is no way to gain the confidence of the gathered political elites.

As any astute ruler would do in this circumstance, Belshazzar quickly gathered his composure and called his most trusted advisors to assess and explain the situation.  In spite of generous promises of compensation, none of his advisors could offer an clarification. Eventually, the queen suggests that Belshazzar consult with one of his father’s advisors, Daniel.

Belshazzar attempts to manipulate and motivate Daniel in order to ascertain a favorable interpretation of the mysterious writing on the wall. He offers him the ultimate political motivation; limitless wealth and one of the highest positions in the government.  Daniel immediately makes it clear that he could not be bought or motivated by this offer.  He responds by declaring, “Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another” (Daniel 5:17).  Can you imagine, being offered status, fame and power, and then simply rejecting it?  This was clearly the behavior of someone who is either crazy or one who stands out from the crowd.

After rejecting the king’s offer, Daniel goes on to interpret the writing without any expectation of favors or influence. He delivers an ominous message to Belshazzar, proclaiming that his time in power would be limited because he had rejected God.  In that culture, giving a ruler such a message of condemnation was typically punishable by death. And yet, rather than worry about his own life, Daniel was motivated by his commitment to God above all else. Daniel could not be bought by Belshazzar. He checked his motivation, choosing to serve God rather then to succumb to any temptation the king could offer.

Ironically, the King responds by giving Daniel all the things he tried to initially bribe him with in the first place. “Then Belshazzar gave the command, and Daniel was clothed with purple, a chain of gold was put around his neck, and a proclamation was made about him that he should be the third ruler of the kingdom” (Daniel 5:29).

One of the most important ways to stand out from the crowd is to continually check your motivation. Asking why are you choosing a particular course of action, is a crucial self assessment to ensure your motivation is anchored in integrity.  A person who can be bought or influenced away from their core values will never standout from the crowd in a meaningful and enduring way.

New headlines are rife with beleaguered men and women who failed to check their motivation on the road to success, and consequently saw their efforts collapse like a house of cards in a hurricane.

If you want to stand out from the crowd, check your motivation.  Ensure that your actions and responses are motivated by the core of what you believe and nothing else.

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