How to motivate others

Promise them something that is important to them

(Luke 6:38 NIV)  Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

We motivate someone to do something by promising him a reward. That reward has to be important to him. Or else it is not a reward in his eyes.

A Christian leader can motivate his followers to serve God and do good so as to enjoy God’s blessings.

Withhold something that is important to them

Haggai 1:4­6 (NIV) “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?” 5 Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 6 You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”

God withheld from them what is important to them so that they can be motivated to put God first.

The early church also practiced this through excommunication. In those days, the acceptance of the community was very important. The church decided to withhold fellowship to an individual who has committed a serious sin so that he can be motivated to repent and win back the fellowship of the community.

(1 Cor 5:1-2 NIV)  It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife. {2} And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this?

A Christian leader can practice this principle by reminding his members of the negative consequences of their actions so that they can be motivated to do right.

Appeal to their core values

Rahab the prostitute saved the Israelite spies and appealed to their kindness to save her family when Israel invades her land.

(Josh 2:12-14 NIV)  Now then, please swear to me by the LORD that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign {13} that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and that you will save us from death.” {14} “Our lives for your lives!” the men assured her. “If you don’t tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the LORD gives us the land.”

General principles
Place yourself in the other person’s shoes

In applying all the above methods, one thing we have to note is that we need to use what is important to the person we want to motivate. To do that, we have to put ourselves in his shoes.

Know when to stop

Once we have presented to the person clearly why he should do a certain thing, we should know when to stop. If we continue to hammer away, we risk building resentment in that person and stir up resistance to the very thing you want him to do.

Use enthusiasm

Sometimes a person will be motivated to do something simply because he sees us being so excited about it.

(Acts 9:26-28 NIV)  When he (i.e. Saul) came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. {27} But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. {28} So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord.

The early Christians were at first afraid to accept Saul as he had been a persecutor of the church. But Barnabas was so enthusiastic about this man because he believed that Saul was genuinely converted. His enthusiasm convinced them and they finally took Saul into their group.

Enthusiasm helps to motivate.

What if we cannot find anything to motivate a person with?

For example, we may try to persuade a man to be faithful to his wife and not cause the marriage to break up by appealing to his core value of loyalty. We may tell him that his wife and child is suffering, so he should stop being unfaithful. But what if he does not care about any of these?

The only thing left to do is to pray. A person’s heart may be in such a hard position that he is not able to receive any of our motivational effort. We need to ask God to change his heart.