How to Motivate

It is hard to overcome inertia - to get a person off his seat and moving. In this article, motivation is laid in two steps: initiating movement and maintaining movement.

Initiating Movement

  1. Intensify interpersonal relations

    The closer you are to a person, the greater the potential for motivation because you would know what he really wants - what motivates him to do what he does. Be truly interested in the person; be a good listener.

    Now that you know what he wants, what will determine how much this person hears of what you have to say?

    • dissolve emotional blocks

      Whenever a person is angry or resentful, his listening will be affected and he becomes a poor candidate for motivation. Worse, if that anger and resentment is directed at you. If you remember someone has something against you then go and be reconciled (Matt 5:23-24). Keep communication pathways open and unhindered.

    • show unconditional love and acceptance

      All of us have weaknesses and undesirable traits. Do not be condescending.
      3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit,
      but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;

      4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests,
      but also for the interests of others.

      5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,

      6 who, although He existed in the form of God,
      did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,

      7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant,
      and being made in the likeness of men.

      8 Being found in appearance as a man,
      He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,
      even death on a cross.
      Phil 2:3-8
      When you love and accept someone for who he is - warts and all - he will probably listen and do what you say; he is motivated to change and grow.

    • believe that God can make him a significant person and express confidence in him

      Story of Jim

      As a member of the Communist Party, Douglas Hyde told a leadership training class that they (the Communist Party) could take anyone who was willing to be trained in leadership and turn him into a leader. After the class, Jim, a "very short, grotesquely fat, with a flabby white face, a cast in one eye and ... a most distressing stutter" approached him and said,
      C-c-c-comrade, I w-w-w-want you to t-t-t-take me and t-t-t-turn me into a l-l-leader of m-m-m-men.
      He took up the challenge. They "gave him a sense of involvement in a battle, and the conviction that by going to classes he would gain the arms and ammunition required for the fight" for a new and better world. The classes Jim attended were small. In the intimacy of the small group, they made Jim a tutor. "... we gave him confidence in himself, enabled him to glimpse his own unsuspected potentialities."

      When Jim died, "his death was of sufficient importance to warrant a front-page report in the Daily Worker and many of his fellow workers and trade unionists followed his body to the crematorium. Jim, the most unpromising-looking piece of human material that ever came my way had become a leader of men."

      Source: Dedication and Leadership by Douglas Hyde

      Transformation of Simon (Peter) and Saul (Paul)

      Our God is in the life-changing business - transformed Paul from a persecutor of the Church to a proclaimer of the Gospel. Jesus took an impulsive and rash Simon who was quick to speak ...
      When Simon saw Jesus walking on the water (Matt 14:26-28), he asked that Jesus command him to do the same but seeing the wind (and the waves), he was terrified and sank. At Jesus' transfiguration (Mark 9:1-6; Luke 9:33), Simon spoke when he did not know what to say! Later, he was ashamed and afraid to identify with Jesus ... and denied Jesus three times (John 18:25-27).
      ... and transformed him into Peter, full of faith and fearless - who declared "We must obey God rather than men ..." when defending the gospel before the Sanhedrin (Acts 4:8-12, 19-20; 5:29-32).

      The challenge for us (believers) is to see beyond physical appearance, personality and behaviour to what a person can become through Christ.

  2. Convey enthusiasm showing that you are sold out on what you are talking about

    Convey excitement and a sense of mission; these make all the difference in how you communicate what needs to be done. However, do not put up a facade; be real, be sincere. To infect others, you got to have the real disease!

  3. Create a need for action through exposure to reality

    Hyde also wrote,
    "The instruction of the new Party member does not normally begin immediately after he joins. Quite deliberately, and with good reason, the Party sends its new members, whenever possible, into some form of public activity before instruction begins." ... such as selling the Party's papers at the roadside. The new member now has to deal with questions and rational objections to his beliefs in Communism.

    "He gives such answers as he can. When it is all over, he heaves a sign of relief, leaves his pitch and takes away his bundle of unsold papers. But he takes away the knowledge that he has not got all the answers to the questions he is likely to be asked as a Communist ... This is when he really begins to learn - and the desire to learn now comes from within himself."
    Involve the person as a participant (even as an observer) in real-life situations to see what is happening. Trust the Lord to use these situations to bring real needs to his attention and move him to action.

Maintaining Movement

  1. Delegate responsibility for tasks

    New tasks will provide the person with challenge and interest. But you still have to present this challenge from his perspective, "What's in it for me?" In other words, ensure that there is benefit for the person.

    When delegating, guide and show him how to do critical activities. If he is successful in his assigned tasks, he will develop increased motivation to achieve higher goals.

  2. Provide encouragement and recognition

    Everybody needs encouragement and recognition. We need encouragement to keep going when we suffer setbacks. When we receive recognition - a pat on the back - for a job well done, we feel appreciated. Recognition is a great motivator; it creates a desire in the recipient to do the job even better.

    To give encouragement and recognition demands that you make time to observe the person's performance (to know what is happening) and to offer the appropriate encouragement or recognition.

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Alan's Gleanings | Copyright © July 2007 by Alan S.L. Wong