What’s In It For Me?

This week we’re talking about wholehearted commitment– what it looks like, what the Bible says, and how we can go “all in” with our faith. I’m going to touch on three areas which specifically highlight why God desires this for our lives. Hope you enjoy reading!

If you’re like me, sometimes your love and appreciation of others is driven by the “WIIFM” mentality. You’ve heard it before: “What’s In It For Me?” Businesses and organizations have used it for motivating and persuading employees for years. The underlying theme behind it is that people are best motivated by self-interest. I can be that way at times also in my relationships.

  • You don’t have any money for lunch? (WIIFM: Sure, I’ll cover you today. You will be buying me lunch next week, right?)
  • You need me to wake up early and run a few errands? (WIIFM: Sure, as long as I get to sleep in tomorrow with no interruptions!)
  • You need me to lead that small group at church?  (WIIFM: I’d be happy to, as long as we follow my agenda and study the topics I’m interested in.)

We’re all looking out for numero uno: a mentality that feeds on self-service, thrives on covetousness, and breeds isolation. With God on the other hand, I believe that wholehearted commitment is what He is after. The first part of living that out is loving God for who He is and not what He can do for us. Before we can fully experience God’s love, we have to properly understand who God is.

Isaiah 6: 1-5 reminds us of what our only response to such a God should be:

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”

At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”

The amazing thing about this passage is that Isaiah’s first and only response to such a holy God was to say, “You are holy. I am unworthy.” Instead of responding with requests, petitions, and personal stories, Isaiah made it completely about God.

So, we know about God. We know who He is (holy, perfect, mighty, etc.). Why do we flip things around and, in turn, make it about us?

My self-interest meter seems to hit 100% quite often. I expect a little blessing from God from time to time. I mean, surely good things will come to someone who serves at church multiple hours every Sunday, tithes regularly, prays for his family, and pretty much does all the “right” things. I even have this tattered little “Christian card” that I pull out of my back pocket that reads, “Dustin: Christian” (okay–not really, but you get the point). Don’t all those things matter?

Sure, they are good things. They serve and encourage other believers. They serve God. When doing those things, however, get to the point where my love and desire for God is divided by my own self interests, I need to have a little heart check.

Have you had a WIIFM mentality recently?


57 Comments

  • bill (cycleguy)

    April 4, 2011

    Reminded me of the line in Field of Dreams, Dustin, where Kevin’s character is ticked that Terrance Mann gets to go into the field of corn. He says, “In all this I never once asked, ‘What’s in it for me?'” (Pause) “So, what’s in it for me?” I have to be careful often falling into this rut of selfishness. As for when lately, dare I say marriage? ‘Nuff said. :)

    Reply
    • Jim F

      April 5, 2011

      One of my favorite scenes in the movie.

      Reply
    • Dustin

      April 5, 2011

      You dare! (it hits home re: marriage!)

      Reply
  • Jim F

    April 4, 2011

    What is in it for me is a constant battle in many areas of my life. Sometimes I battle and win and sometimes I battle and lose. Being in full time ministry sometimes draws this out of me and I really do not like when I see it. I think it is a good and effective ploy of the enemy.

    A good reminder of the important! Thanks Dustin.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      April 5, 2011

      An active ploy for sure. Thanks for the share, Jim.

      Reply
  • mo

    April 4, 2011

    Hey, I never got one of those cards!

    Yeah I definitely have. A guy who lives way out of my way asked me for a ride to church a few days ago. He always asks me for a ride. Even though we have a campus that’s walking distance from his house, he likes to go to our other campus,and he has no car.

    I told him that I was a bad first choice, b/c I come with wife and babychild together now, and because I set some things up in the morning.

    But, most importantly, I was annoyed. I told him to call me if he couldn’t find anyone else closer to him.

    I felt…torn for a bit. I still do. His subsequent search turned up a neighbor, though, who drives and is willing to bring him every week. so…at least God used my selfish moment for good.

    I hate things like that…you can find a million reasons to justify. But sometimes it still doesn’t feel quite right.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      April 5, 2011

      Man, thanks for sharing that example. Often those things require a little sacrifice on our end, and the very reason we drag our feet a little is the sacrifice…not the most convenient thing.

      Reply
  • Tony Alicea

    April 4, 2011

    The kingdom of God is so counter-cultural. We’re trained by this world to look out for self but it’s such an orphan spirit. Never trust, never submit, never be weak. But humility and selflessness is not weakness. It is actually the most powerful thing we can do.

    The kicker is that we do FIRST have to take care of ourselves. ONLY then can we pour out and be selfless. But we take care of ourselves by receiving from God, not others.

    It’s all a crazy, paradoxical way of life. But its so much better than anything else.

    Reply
    • Donald Borsch Jr

      April 4, 2011

      >>The kicker is that we do FIRST have to take care of ourselves. ONLY then can we pour out and be selfless. But we take care of ourselves by receiving from God, not others.
      ——————————————-

      “Love your neighbor AS YOURSELF.”

      People flinch at this because they believe it denotes or implies being selfish. But how can we love our neighbors if we do not love ourselves? There is more to this than we think.

      Nicely said, Tony.

      Reply
    • Dustin

      April 5, 2011

      Fill up to be poured out. So true, Tony. Always appreciate your insight!

      Reply
  • Ben

    April 4, 2011

    Totally have to have a check every so often. More times, when thinking “WIIFM?” I try and make it clear to the other party what my intentions are. 3 years ago? Not so much.

    I think it’s OK to be like this in a few cases, as long as you are not trying deceive anybody about your intentions. First and foremost though, a servant’s heart needs to be that of one thing, to serve.

    Wait, so does this mean that you’re not paying for coffee? Dangit.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      April 5, 2011

      Being a “servant” and “humble” is a tricky thing I think, at times. The moment we pride ourselves on being those things is the moment we’re actually heading in the opposite direction.

      Reply
  • Adam

    April 4, 2011

    I really have to keep this kind of mentality in check… This is when selfishness starts coming onto play and thinking of myself before others. Not a place i like to be. So I try to make it a point to regularly to reflect on my interactions and make sure that I am not leaning in this direction.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      April 5, 2011

      Selfishness is tough. Always a ‘mentality’ that needs to be checked… Thanks for sharing, Adam.

      Reply
  • Marlee

    April 4, 2011

    Hey Dustin,
    Thank you for this article. It’s these areas that are easy to over look in our walk and they are so critical to become more like Christ. After all, that is the part of the process, right?

    I once heard it put like this:
    “You need to seek His presence, not just His presents!”

    That always stuck with me.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      April 5, 2011

      Yes! Never heard that before, but I like it! So simple.

      Reply
  • Moe

    April 4, 2011

    I think our culture today breathes the “WIIFM” mentality. We no longer respect authority, rules, etc. We like to use our “freedom” to demand from other, and worse, from God to fill our “bellies”.

    I wonder if Hosea thought about that. Hey, I’ll marry that hoochie mama, you want me to, but what’s in it for me? I don’t think he ever got a “benefit” per say.

    This story, is God’s story, and we are not the “main” character, we are the folks in the background, the main character is always Christ.

    *My “Christian” card is laminated and has a golden seal. Does yours?

    Reply
    • Donald Borsch Jr

      April 4, 2011

      *My “Christian” card is laminated and has a golden seal. Does yours?
      ——————

      I keep leaving mine at the local bar. Dang it.

      Reply
      • moe

        April 4, 2011

        I’ve done that a few times. :)

        Reply
    • Dustin

      April 5, 2011

      Yes, moe. Mine has a golden seal. Actually get it resealed every year. :)

      I think you’re right: the mindset is prevalent and we often deem ourselves deserving of so many things. When, straight up, we don’t deserve anything.

      Reply
  • Justin

    April 4, 2011

    I have to check myself daily in this, Dustin. The WIIFM mindset is of the world – and we’re not called to live that way. But it’s still so difficult – we need to stay close to our God.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      April 5, 2011

      Most def, Justin. Any tips that you use?

      Reply
  • Donald Borsch Jr

    April 4, 2011

    D,

    Jesus tells me, daily, “THIS is what’s in it for you.”, and then He throws wide the gates to His Father’s Kingdom.

    Just sayin’.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      April 5, 2011

      Love it. What a strong, direct way to counteract that mindset.

      Reply
  • Ryan Tate

    April 4, 2011

    I was just the best man at my friend’s wedding over the weekend, so I have “marriage” on the brain right now. However, I see one of the most dangerous places where the WIIFM mindset can creep up is in marriage. My wife may not always be worthy of unconditional love, but I have to serve her without expecting anything in return because that is what reflects the gospel and God’s model of marriage. But I often say WIIFM in my marriage.

    Great post Dustin, thanks, you ruined my day.

    Reply
    • Donald Borsch Jr

      April 4, 2011

      Ryan,

      >>My wife may not always be worthy of unconditional love, but I have to serve her without expecting anything in return because that is what reflects the gospel and God’s model of marriage.
      ————

      Yep. That’s why marriage is a covenant, just like Salvation, and not an agreement.

      Reply
    • Dustin

      April 5, 2011

      Agreed – truthfully, in my marriage is where this creeps in the most. I want to remember to “prefer” my wife.

      …. and, you’re welcome. :)

      Reply
  • Jon

    April 4, 2011

    Guilty of WIIFM mentality. I think for me it creeps up in the smallest things (i.e. helping someone out…even at times social media). I have to take a step back, and think of what my intentions really are. The thing about it is that doing good things are great, but if our hearts aren’t in the right place, then it’s all show and no substance…

    Reply
    • Dustin

      April 5, 2011

      >>>”all show and no substance”

      Aint that the truth.

      Reply
  • Jason

    April 4, 2011

    Great post. That WIIFM mentality is so seductive and prevalent in society. You can’t really go anywhere without getting it’s stink on you.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      April 5, 2011

      So seductive. It’s tempting because like Moe said earlier, I think we’re all guilty of thinking we’re deserving of things/gifts/reciprocal acts/etc.

      Reply
  • Keri

    April 4, 2011

    Totally convicted by this post, Dustin. :( Your words have a tendency to do that. :P

    Just this past weekend, I was having a convo with my bff about a new friend of mine who likes to talk about herself. A LOT. I enjoy hanging out with her, but, man, when do we get to talk about Keri? Hmmm, bff responds that I need to accept that perhaps God has brought this person into my life for a specific reason. Maybe I can show her what it’s like to be more otherly. Bummer is, that means some (or A LOT) of my needs won’t be met in this relationship. And, maybe I just need to be okay with that. Gonna take an attitude adjustement from me first.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      April 5, 2011

      I know what you mean-I’ve had friendships like that in the past. I think you’re approaching it right thought (making sure your heart is in the right place first).

      Reply
  • John

    April 4, 2011

    I sometimes do have that mentality, especially when it comes to church stuff. I am so willing to surrender my weeknights and Sunday mornings as long as doing all of this benefits me in some way or as long as sometime soon I get to reward myself for all my hard work. I know it’s wrong. Thanks for the reminder.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      April 5, 2011

      you’re welcome. sometimes its the reminder of “hey, these things are for other people. i’m going to give of myself in this situation”. thanks for sharing, John.

      Reply
  • Bryan Thompson

    April 4, 2011

    Hey Dustin. Dude, I feel like the worst blogging friend in the world. The last update I saw was your hymn update. I have hit the ground running in the new church position and I have about 30 minutes a week to do blog stuff now! I promise I’ll get caught up! :) Always love your posts, man.

    You’re right on here. Even as a ministry leader, I have found myself struggling with the WIIFM syndrome. (Because that’s what it is.) Thanks for the Isaiah mention. That really hits home. Thanks for the challenge.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      April 5, 2011

      Yeah man, no prob at all. Missing your regular post as well. Glad to hear that your new position is good though!!

      Reply
  • seekingpastor

    April 4, 2011

    Sadly, yes. The idea of loving God for who He is and not for what He provides is something we discussed in Sunday School when talking about the Church of Laodicea in Revelation. They apparently thought that God was okay with them becasue they were rich, but were really naked, blind, and destitute. Good words.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      April 5, 2011

      Thanks matt – lukewarm faith != to wholehearted commitment!

      Reply
  • Adam

    April 5, 2011

    no.. not me ive NEVER had the WIIFM attitude..ever. Im also NOT a liar either. ahaha. but seriously this is one of the biggest things I still deal with and i need to remind myself daily. “its not about me” It really isn’t

    I think one of the hardest things to hear was a few years ago when we hit a rough spot in our marriage was when my wife (and close friends) pointed out my WIIFM mentality, and of course i denied it.. justified it.. tried everything not to recognize it. But when I finally saw that it was true.. it hit me like a ton of bricks.

    so now its just a daily thing that i have to remind myself of… that its not about me.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      April 5, 2011

      adam, i can relate. you know, when that part of me is pointed out and addressed/confronted, my first reaction is to be defensive. “of course, i’m not being selfish. and here are the reasons why….” daily checks, my friend.

      Reply
  • Sandy Sandmeyer

    April 5, 2011

    You asked, “Why do we flip things around and, in turn, make it about us?” Because we are such selfish creatures. I have been learning about that a lot lately. I even wrote a post about it. Since I am an only child, and people think I’m spoiled, I get a lot of flack about thinking about myself first. The best way we can love on someone is by letting them go first, speak first, merge in front of us, etc.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      April 5, 2011

      Absolutely. When we prefer others, we’re naturally putting ourselves behind them. Thanks for sharing!

      Reply
  • kristinherdy

    April 5, 2011

    um, yup, that’s me, wondering why I would spend the time, give the money, host a visiting speaker, make cookies… do I get recognition, glory, reward? that’s a holdover from my teen years, too — I couldn’t understand why I could do things “right” and still not have all the perks enjoyed by those who did them “wrong.”

    What I wasn’t doing “right” was my attitude and the spirit in which I performed what I saw as my Christian duty. My attitude stunk and sometimes, it still does. Thanks for the booster shot, Dustin!

    Reply
    • Dustin

      April 5, 2011

      you’re welcome! i think you’re right (and keri touched on it as well) – the underlying theme has to be an attitude check. we think we deserve certain things, which in turn affect our responding attitude. i’ve been that way many times before as well.

      Reply
  • Tom Raines

    April 5, 2011

    Great topic. Wiifm? joy, eternity, love. wisdom. Seeking Him and His will has some great WIIFM’s in there. If we do what we do to honor Him without respect for our measly earthly wiifm’s what’s in it for us in incomprehensible…sweeeet.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      April 5, 2011

      heavenly mindset > earthly one …. drivin’ it home, tom! :)

      Reply
  • kevin

    April 5, 2011

    I’m pretty sure I have that mentality 75% of the time. Not awesome.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      April 5, 2011

      I am with you, K. Not awesome!

      Reply
  • Joseph

    April 5, 2011

    FIrst time here Dustin! Great Post!

    I am human so I am selfish in some areas of live. But I am also glad to have an awesome mother, grandmother, and late great-grandmother that are super un-selfish. They are always showing God’s love to people they come in contact with. Seeing this growing up really helped me understand God’s love in a way. I’m thankful I had that in my life at such a young age. It helped shaped me in to who I am today. But putting others first is still something I have to work at. Enjoyed the post.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      April 5, 2011

      Joseph, first off – thanks for stopping by. Hope to see you back around!

      That is awesome that you’ve had such great examples of humility in your life. Nothing better than seeing it lived out in other people’s lives (especially people who you are close with). I think it drives it home a little more… and a little quicker. :)

      Reply
  • Stan

    April 6, 2011

    Also a first time reader, Dustin. You make a really great point here. It is so natural for me to be selfish. I was born that way. I wasn’t born asking how I could help out around the house. I was born demanding things my own way on my own time schedule. Recently, I have been reading a book on marriage, “Every Man’s Marriage.” I believe the gist of it boils down to what you’re talking about here. Including another human being into your life and acknowledging them and their needs as higher than your own. Marriage is the ultimate testing ground it seems like. Thanks for the great reminder. Good stuff!

    Reply
    • Dustin

      April 6, 2011

      Stan, thanks for the comment. I appreciate you stopping by and reading!

      I’ve heard about Every Man’s Marriage (I know people who have read “…Battle”) and have heard good things. I think you’re right – marriage is a testing ground for this kind of mentality… and it’s something we have to specifically chose against!

      Reply
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  • Alex Humphrey

    April 6, 2011

    Amen!

    What’s most amazing about God, is that He has already done everything for us! He has given us the air to breathe, the faith to trust Him, the ability to worship Him, and most all He sacraficed His very son for us.

    We have no reason to demand anything from Him. Thank you so much for the reminder, Dustin! Praise God!

    Reply
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