I Don't Deserve It - Creating Reward Systems

I Don’t Deserve It 

If I lose ten pounds, I can have a bowl of ice cream… why? Because I deserve it. I’ve worked so hard to get this weight off I deserve a little treat, don’t I? Or do I? I have spent years setting up systems and challenges to reward myself for a job well done. Motivation is a tricky thing, especially in my line of work, where it seems like you are always sowing and waiting with baited breath for the reaping to begin. 

How many times have you used a system of giving yourself a treat when you accomplish a goal, meet a deadline or overcome a problem? Better yet, how many times have you used a system of rewards to entice a loved one to comply with your directives? 

You know, “Little Johnny, if you get all A’s this semester, I’ll give you $10.00 for every great grade!” 

Incentives are good, but they can become counterproductive when they lead you back to the very behavior you are trying to overcome. What if no matter how hard Little Johnny tries he needs a tutor and gets a C in math? What might be bright Little Johnny’s response to not only your reward system, but to the problem itself? Little Johnny might just blow you off and do what he wants to do, or he might feel like a failure and struggle with self esteem and confidence in this area, or he might get mad and start to act out. All of those responses are not very healthy ones. 

I had that revelation a few days ago when I found my hand stuck deep down inside a bag of chips. Why was I rewarding myself with the very thing I was trying to overcome? It’s like saying I’m going to pay off my credit card bills and then after doing so running out and buying something you don’t need but want because you’ve been handling your money so well. Until now, because you used that same credit card to make a purchase to reward yourself! And what if that small purchase that you deserved turns into those shoes that were on sale, that comforter that was marked down, those nightgowns that were buy one get one free? 

I had to face the truth, at least this was my truth. I didn’t deserve the reward, because to many times the reward that I had selected had turned into a spree. Rewarding myself was an excuse for me to be undisciplined. To act in ways that were not good for me, to engage in old habits and yes, to even be disobedient to the will of God for my life. I was Little Johnny, sometimes not caring, sometimes feeling defeated, sometimes angry that this was my cross to bear. 

Proverbs 25:28 says, “Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person with no self control.” 

Aw, the undeniable, ever truthful, smack you in the face, word of God. 

Thinking I deserve something that catapults me back into the very things I’m trying to gain victory over is nothing more than functioning with broken down walls, without a trace of self control. So, I have resolved that I don’t need to reward myself. What I need to do is plan time to unwind in my day because I am busy and sometimes I need to tune out with Flea Market Flip. I need to get back to my Celebrate Recovery Meetings, everybody needs somebody to talk to and to hold them accountable. And finally, I need to schedule those foods that I deem as “treats” into my life. I’ll have ice cream cake on my birthday, no need to use it as a reward for losing ten pounds. 

And most importantly, I will remember that although I actually deserved death, the Lord loved me so much that His death declared that I deserved life. And being obedient to His perfect will should be the only reward I seek.

1 comment

  • Susan Rizzo

    Susan Rizzo Long Island, NY

    Great message. It’s a battle to fight against rewards that lead us right back into temptation! I need to call on Jesus and ask the Hily Spirit in me to fight the battle. I just tried a new tactic: my reward to compensate for loneliness was that I joined the local Y and began an exercise class. I see friends of my age not basically becoming more ill and not being able to enjoy life which also motivates me. . I pray now for perseverance and encouragement to continue. Choosing this type of “ reward” brings rewards of its own.

    Great message. It’s a battle to fight against rewards that lead us right back into temptation! I need to call on Jesus and ask the Hily Spirit in me to fight the battle. I just tried a new tactic: my reward to compensate for loneliness was that I joined the local Y and began an exercise class. I see friends of my age not basically becoming more ill and not being able to enjoy life which also motivates me. . I pray now for perseverance and encouragement to continue. Choosing this type of “ reward” brings rewards of its own.

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