God encourages us in His word to “let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” [Hebrews 10:24 (NIV)] As Church leader this is part of my job description. I am continually trying to motivate people to live the life God desires for them. A life filled with love of others and doing good deeds for them. In fact, just this morning my wife and I had a discussion of how we could get a couple to change their ways for the better.
The “how to” is usually the easy part. The hard part is getting people motivated to make the changes they need to make. How do you get people to do love and good works? The verse says we are to “spur” them. Usually we picture this to its western equivalent and try to motivate people by digging in our heels and making them surrender in mercy. I would suggest this is not exactly what the passage means or at least it is not limited to this one type of motivation. There are a variety of ways to motivate people whether you are a church leader, a parent, a coach or a boss at work.
1. Encouragement – As a parent I continually find myself telling my children, “You can do it.” As a church leader I am required to encourage people to step out in faith. A simple and kind affirmation of some people’s potential is all they need to motivate them.
2. Rewards – “If you do this you will receive this.” Sometimes it can be, “Since you have done this good thing I am now going to reward you.” Very frequently you can motive people to do almost anything just by giving them a simple reward.
3. Praise – Once a task has been completed a moment of applause can be the best feeling in the world. The words “thank you” are two of the most special words in the world. I can last for a week on a simple word of praise for a job well done.
4. Punishment – First you tell the person the punishment if they fail and then they live in fear of that consequence. Also, you punish the person for their wrong behavior so that they do not do it again. This can often be born out of anger over wrong behavior.
I know I could list a few other ways to motivate people but my bigger question is, “What motivates you?” What pushes you to do or even redo some good action?
The follow-up question is equally important; “What do you use to motivate others?” All of us have some basic tools that we go back to again and again. The hard part is that other people may be motivated by something different from you. Because of your background and personality you may be motivated by fear, but the people you are trying to motivate are challenged by praise. This gets difficult because you get angry and try to instill fear into people who are looking for praise and it is as if you are speaking different languages.
So I ask again, “What motivates you?” and “What do you use to motivate others?”