How to Find Your Driving Force

by Andy Wood on July 19, 2011

in Following Your Passion, Insight, Life Currency, LV Cycle, Money, Time, Words

Remember when you wanted that whatever-it-was from Santa Claus?  Or your employer?  Or your spouse or parents or educators or whoever… only to get it and be disappointed?

Remember when you thought, “If I could just make this amount of money, I would be content?”  And you did… and you weren’t?

Remember the time you dreamed and dreamed and dreamed some more about a meaningful goal and were disappointed?  But it didn’t keep you from dreaming some more?

Remember when you didn’t have your health or didn’t have any money or didn’t have anybody and it was all you could think about?  Then when health or wealth or somebody showed up, it only served to point out something else you don’t have – and now all you think about is that?

All these and more are examples of something that stirs us, motivates us, alarms us or moves us in a certain direction, but never quite allows us to rest once we get where we think we’re going.

I’m talking about your Driving Force, and yes, you have one.  Maybe more than one.

You Driving Force is your dream maker.  It’s your prime mover.  In the poetic sense, it’s what gets you out of bed in the morning (unless your driving force IS the bed, then you have some real problems).

Your Driving Force is often the answer to questions like:

  • Why did you react like that?
  • Why can’t you get that off you mind?
  • Why don’t you just quit?

It goes by other names.  My favorite is “treasure.”  As in “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21).

Your Driving Force makes you uncomfortable, restless – even a bit unhappy until you pursue whatever direction it is taking you.  But here’s where it gets tricky.  We’re a pretty complex bunch, especially where motives or emotions are involved.  And we don’t always know what that direction is.  Or what the Driving Force actually is.  We just know that it’s, well, driving.

So sometimes we get it wrong.  And sometimes getting it wrong can be costly, if not disastrous.  You can lose a lot of time, money, and relationships chasing something you think is your Driving Force, only to find yourself deceived and devastated.

Raise your hand if you’re thinking something like this right now:  “Hmphh.  My Driving Force is Jesus.”

I see that hand.  And another.  And another.  And you there, in the back.  Yes.  There are hands everywhere.

Oh.  Sorry… where was I?

Maybe your Driving Force is Jesus, and maybe it isn’t.  Or without picking on you too much or hiring an investigator to follow you around, maybe it’s a really mixed bag.  The big question is, How can you know? And how can you keep from being deceived?

Here are six ways you can trace your treasure:

1.  Check your checkbook.

Your Driving Force may not be money, but it sure controls it.  Which explains why a guy with an arsenal in his den and bedroom and closet just has to buy that new rifle.  Or why if your power gets cut off, you’ll stop what you’re doing and fix the problem however you can.  You don’t have unlimited money.  So over the long haul, you’ll spend what you have (or what you think you’re going to have) on what matters most to you.  That also explains why you don’t spend money in certain situations.

Go ahead and try to worm out of that if you want to.  But no less than Jesus Christ Himself said that your heart and treasure were linked.

2.  Listen to what you say.

Jesus again:  “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34).  Know why you’re willing to bore people to tears with tales of your grandchildren (mine are awesome and you can just get over it)?  They’re important to you.  That’s also why people criticize and joke and preach and encourage and whine.  They’re declaring the contents of their hearts.  Out of the abundance of the heart people tell stories, express love, take God’s name in vain, or yell at people that can’t hear them in traffic.

If you’re really brave, have someone secretly record you at various points throughout the day.  Watch for patterns.  Listen for the Driving Force.

3.  Think about your thoughts.

Who or what do you wish for?  Plan for?  Obsess over?  Who do you miss?  Despise?  Vow to get even with?  Who or what fascinates you?  Frightens you?  Look for the shadows of the Driving Force there.  When Paul told the Philippians that every time he thought of them he thanked his God, and couldn’t wait to see them again, that was the language of the Driving Force.   When the psalmist said that he was thirsty for God like a deer pants for the water brooks, that, too, is Driving Force language.

Your treasure is whatever controls or dominates the thoughts of your heart.  That could be a problem to solve, a relationship to heal, a dream to fulfill, or a debt or bill to pay.  The fact that you dwell on it says something about your Driving Force.

4.  Analyze what occupies your time.

In Ephesians 5:16, Paul warns us to “redeem the time, for the days are evil.”  You and I have different amounts of money or talent.  But we have the same time budget.  And how you spend your time reflects the Driving Force of your heart.  When you say, “I don’t have time,” that’s the same as saying, “This isn’t important to me.”  On the other hand, the working, the waiting, the meeting, the connecting are all expressions of commitment and priority.

And yes, it’s quite possible that computer solitaire is more important to you than family or friends.  Or that Facebook is more important than face time.  Or work success is more important than marriage success.  It’s all about the Driving Force.

5.  Heed what you hold on to.

Jesus once compared the kingdom of heaven to a treasure (there’s that word again), hidden in a field.  When a man finds it, he hides the treasure, and for the sheer joy of it, sells all he has and buys the field (Matthew 13:44).  The treasure hunter wouldn’t give up that find for anything.  Why?  The Driving Force in him that valued the treasure.

How about you?  What gets you defensive or protective?  What do refuse to give up?  What or who do you cling to, even while you’re giving up other important things or people?  You’ll find the Driving Force there on some scale.  It may be small-scale (picture my coffee in the morning) or the level of a life calling.  Doesn’t matter.  When Jacob said to the angel, “I will not let you go until you bless me,” and his wife said to Jacob, “Give me children or I die!” that is gut level Driving Force material.

6.  Examine your emotions.

Especially the ones that surprise you with how strong they are.  Your Driving Force will use feelings more than any other natural source to move you to action.  Pay attention to anger, desire, joy, tears, and excitement. Those are the most common handles your Driving Force will use to spur you on.

You get excited about the things you treasure.  You weep over the things you treasure.  If it doesn’t affect you emotionally, chances are, you don’t love it very much.


You may discover after a little soul searching that the force that’s driving you is stronger, healthier, more powerful than you thought.  Or, you may discover that your  Driving Force(s) is selfish, powerless, or even ungodly.  If so, I have good news:  If you don’t like your Driving Force, You can always change it. In a future post, I’ll show you how.

Until then, I can’t stress the importance enough of knowing what yours is.  Take the time.  Do some heart searching.  You’ll find a lot of wisdom and passion on the other side of it.


Natalie K July 2, 2016 at 3:39 pm

Very impressive. I am currently reading purpose driven life which asks the question of what is your driving force.
These 6 pointers have really helped
Thank you so much!

Sharon S. November 5, 2018 at 7:22 pm

I also found this article because I’m reading The Purpose Driven Life. This lays it out for me. Very useful!

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