There are a lot of things that we feel we should do: church projects, ministry work, evangelism outreach, volunteering. And there are plenty of things that we want to do. Sometimes, those “shoulds” and “wants” overlap, making it easy to decide what to do.
But things get more complicated when the things we feel that we should do aren’t necessarily the ones that we most want to do. How do we know what opportunities we’re “supposed” to pursue? Is it wrong to undertake a project or make a commitment but not have our heart in it? Is it ever appropriate to decline an opportunity or a need because we don’t have the right level of enthusiasm or a sense of calling about it?
This Daily Encounter devotional addresses this tricky question, and cautions Christians not to let our sense of spiritual obligation become a weight that drags us down:
Have you ever been in a similar situation and noticed that there is a big difference between “shoulds” and “wants”? If I do certain things only because I should and my heart is not in it, how genuine is that? I am talking more about a type of compulsive “shoulds” that can be very confusing at times.
If you have ever struggled with even mild compulsive “shoulds,” how can you tell what is from God, from your own self, or even from the enemy?
Compulsive “shoulds” can come from various sources. They can come from a mental condition in the brain that is inherited, or from an over-dependent need to be popular, accepted and admired. They can come from a neurotic need for approval, from false motives, for payback or even to manipulate others. They can also come from a spirit of legalism which keeps one in terrible bondage.
Have you recently been torn between a “should” and a “want”? How did you resolve it, and did you learn anything in the process?