Motivation in the muck

There are days when I feel like I’m on top of the world. Everything is awesome, and I can’t help but to marvel at the blessings God has given me.


And then there are other days – when I feel the world has just taken a giant crap on my head. I’m left wondering what the heck happened, asking God where He is, and what the heck am I doing wrong?


The last few days for us have been pretty frustrating from multiple angles. We have had some great days, and some great moments. But we have also had “world dump on the Zins” days.


We literally gave up our entire world to move to Thailand to show some love to people and a culture we had never met. Despite the sacrifices, at times we have been met with rejection, disappointment, and just crap. At times there is no thanks, there is no change, and sometimes there is nothing but what seems like a back hand to the face.


So I question… why do all this? Is it really worth it? Why give up so much for people who just don’t give a crap?


How you answer that question is contingent upon this: When you’re in the muck of life, what is your motivation for what you’re doing?


A really wise man said this (Jesus… Jesus is the wise man):


“Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’” – Luke 17:10


It would be like if I said, “oh yeah I decided to not play in the NBA because I decided to sacrifice myself and play some pick up ball once a week instead.” I can pat myself on the back for “choosing” that, but in reality, I already belong there and deserve that! In essence, don’t pat yourself on the back for doing something that you should already be doing, or for being in a spot you already deserve to be in. In summary, I believe a lot of our frustration or ungratefulness stems from feeling entitled, or from us thinking we deserve more or to be better off than we actually do.


It’s the same concept when I get all upset that things aren’t going my way. I question God WHY these bad things are happening to me, or why things aren’t going my way, or why can’t things be smoother? I have sacrificed “so much”, so I deserve better, right? But truthfully – that is what I deserve. I am a broken, jacked up, mess who has rebelled against God. So in reality, because of my sin and rebellion against a holy and perfect God, I deserve much worse.


When you look at it from that perspective, it’s a whole lot sweeter when you have ANY blessing come your way. Because I can see that I clearly don’t deserve them. If you look at it this way, how can I not be grateful?


And the fact that my God, my King, invites me to join in on His amazing plan and wants to use me – even though He doesn’t need me to do it? Incredible. And the fact that despite my rebellion He calls me His child? Wow.


So… what’s your motivation?


– If its self worth or recognition and you don’t get that, you will get frustrated quickly. Trust me, I’ve been there. Not everyone will be there to see everything you’re doing, or even care. This motivation runs out quick.


– If its rewards in the future – that’s great but sometimes it’s hard to keep your eye on the prize, plus all that really means is that you are thinking about Y-O-U and what happens when you don’t get the raise or new car Joel Osteen said you would? Frustrating…


– If our motivation is because Jesus is your King and you recognize that you are on this earth to serve and glorify Him IN RESPONSE to what He has done because you know He deserves every last ounce of worship your body can muster, this motivation won’t run out. Because the fact that He saved me despite my sin doesn’t run out – that fact will never change, so as a result, my motivation will never change. Don’t give him the scraps or the leftovers, give him the true, sacrificial, worship that He is deserving of.


I truly believe living a sacrificial life is what will make a difference in this world, and if you are a follower of Jesus, I believe we are called to live the same sacrificial life that He lived (despite the fact that He was actually deserving of so much better and we are not). Anyone can take the easy road, and love those who are easy to love. But when we love others at a big expense of ourselves, and love those who are tough to love, THIS is what will glorify God. This is what will help create change in the world. Lets take a chance. Lets make a sacrifice.


Not because of what it does for us – but because He is worthy.


 Not doing it for trumpet or because we are entitled – but doing it because He deserves our duty.


Don’t get me wrong, sacrificing sucks sometimes. When I am faced with a choice to sacrifice and lower myself, my pride SWELLS up thinking “I deserve better”, “I shouldn’t have to suffer like this” or even “how is this really making an impact”, etc. But this is when I get closer to Jesus because I need HIS power to make the sacrifice because I am unable to do it on my own.


I am NOT saying everyone should pack up and move to a third world country. In fact there are many people who may read this who are making WAY bigger sacrifices than I will ever make, or have had way bigger “world take a dump on them” days. But what I AM saying is that if you are a follower of Christ, we should live our lives sacrificially, wherever we are. NOT to get anything from it, or receive recognition, but because He is worthy. I may be crazy, but when Jesus said “pick up your cross and follow me” – I don’t think He was talking about everyone wearing a cross necklace. I think He was talking about the biggest act of sacrifice the world has ever known. And when He tells us to follow Him, I think He meant it.


So…. on the mucky days, what’s your motivation? What keeps you going?




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3 Responses to Motivation in the muck

  1. Natalie Valiente says:

    Hi! You don’t really know me, but I am a friend of your mom’s. I am also Samantha Owens’ sister. I have been so blessed by your transparency. Your post resonates so much with what God has been showing me lately. I want to be content in all circumstances then when things don’t happen they way I prayed, then I am disappointed. I SO don’t want to be like that! I am in the process of adopting from Ethiopia and it can really be challenging at times. God has been showing me in his word and through other people like you how to trust in through the challenges! Thank you! Also this was so encouraging to me and thought it would encourage you too! It’s the story of Steve Saint and his response to an accident that partially paralyzed him a year ago. It encouraged me with God’s perspective. I don’t know what your Internet is like but it’s worth watching if you have time. May you be blessed! We are praying for you often!

    Natalie Valiente

    Sent from my mobile device

    • thezins says:


      Thanks so much for the encouragement and the prayers, it means a lot! Making a difference is definitely a team effort, not an individual one 🙂 I have heard international adoption is quite a process – we will be praying that it goes smoothly and I’m glad that through it you are trusting in Him more and growing closer to Him! And I will definitely check out that video – thanks for sharing!


  2. Rayanna Fields says:

    Hi Mike,
    It is great to see and hear your heart as you are going through the difficulties of serving the Lord in missions. Anna Jeanne Price has called Thailand ” the missionary graveyard.” That is where she and her husband served until his death from cancer. They poured their lives into the people there, just as you are and there are results of their ministry.
    You are blooming where you are planted, and there will be a harvest because you are pouring your lives out in worship to the Lord. Romans 12:1-2. That is TRUE WORSHIP, not performance! We don’t always see the answers immediately, but the Lord tells us to plant and HE is in charge of bringing the harvest, whether it is one changed life …or thousands!
    Keep planting and keep growing! It is a lifelong process that brings great joy! “Weeping may last
    for the night, but joy comes in the morning”. “I love you and Nicole, and I am very proud of you! We pray for you daily!
    Aunt Rayanna

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