Monday, October 25, 2010


I have a confession to make. When I write posts for this blog I don't always have the purest motives. Often times my goals are selfish, prideful, or short-sighted.

Sometimes my main purpose in writing a post is to prove that I'm right, or to demonstrate how smart I am. I tell myself that I'm doing it to correct a common misconception or to educate my readers. I tell myself that I'm doing it because I want to serve others, but sometimes I think my real motivation is to stroke my own ego.

For that I apologize, and I hope you'll be able to forgive me.

Part of the problem is that I really believe in what I'm doing. I believe that the things I am writing are important. I believe that I am doing what is right.

But righteousness can easily be corrupted, and turn into self-righteousness. All it takes is a slight shift in perspective. We stop paying attention to the good that we are trying to do and instead we focus on our own efforts. Suddenly our goal is no longer to do good, but to be seen doing good, to have people recognize and acknowledge that we are doing good.

Now I must stop and think. I know that the things I write about are good and true (even if the writing itself is corrupt and motivated by pride). Do I need other people to recognize that? Do I need other people to agree with me so I can feel validated?

This is a real pitfall in evangelism, or in any other attempt to persuade people. We want people to see our point of view. We want other people to be convinced, to change their minds and see things from our point of view.

In one sense this is natural and good. If we are right, then it is only natural that we would want other people to see things our way. But it is easy for us to wish to persuade others, not because we think we are right, but because we want them to affirm us in our beliefs.

This is not an easy thing to sort out. It can be hard to draw a clean line in between pure and impure motivations, but it must be done. If not, we run the risk of letting our selfish motives corrupt our good deeds and steer us away from our good intentions.


  1. It's a problem inherent to any type of persuasive writing - how do you distinguish between actually being right, and just feeling right? That's where the adversarial process comes in - if you can defend your position from reasoned criticism, you're potentially on to something.

    Recognizing that you could be wrong is an important component of that process. It's good that you're aware of the potential problem - it should help to improve your thinking and writing.

  2. That's a good point. Being able to defend one's arguments from reasoned criticism is a good place to start testing. Being able to listen to and receive criticisms of your argument takes a certain amount of humility. Also, good criticism shows you where you're off base and need to either revise your argument or change your opinion.