Learning to Motivate

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Pretty frequently Missy asks me how I know different random facts. She thinks I should go on a game show and put my knowledge of useless information to work for our family. Information motivates me. Because it motivates me it is the way I usually try to motivate others. Present the information and people will be motivated to change. But that is not always the case. We are not all motivated by the same things. Some people are motivate more by other things: emotions, humor, reward, etc.

The challenge of motivating others is to go against our natural tendency to motivate others the way we feel most motivated. It is only natural that we typically try to motivate people by the methods and means that motivate us. But that is not always effective. Try motivating an emotion-driven person with cold hard facts and watch your efforts fail to take root. It takes a lot of skill to lay aside our motivators and take up another set of motivators in order to reach as many people as possible or just to reach that one person you happen to be talking with at the time. First, we have to realize that we aren’t all motivated by the same things. Second, we have to realize that although what moves us to action or conviction seems powerful to us, it does not seem that way to everyone. Third, we have to be aware of the content of our Bible classes and make sure to present things in a way that makes use of different motivators.

This post has a problem. Here I have presented some general information. But if you aren’t motivated by that then maybe this post has done little to motivate you to investigate your strategies of motivation. What motivates you the most and why?

0 Responses

  1. pretty much i’m motivated best by promises of ice cream or pizza.

    i was about to say i’m most motivated by facts and information. but then i thought through it a bit… i’m actually more motivated by challenge. i’m addicted to conquest — rather, i should say, i’m a recovering addict. if there’s a near-impossible task, i want to give it a shot. if there’s a longer race, i want to run it. a higher mountain, i’m begging my wife to let me climb it. if i have to make two shots to win the biggest stuffed animal, here’s my $3. it’s a fun way to live, but it’s caused a whole lot of problems as well.

    one thing i find interesting is that it seems some people are just great at motivating — regardless of which method they use. in fact, they might not do anything at all; people just look at them and want to be better people, or try harder, or make changes. what’s that about?

  2. LOL

    You’ve motivated me to reply!

    That’s the genius of Aristotle’s understanding of logos, ethos, and pathos in the realm of rhetoric.

    A good piece of rhetoric is good not because it uses X amount of each, but because it uses the right amount of each to motivate the particular audience.

    James, I think what you’re describing in your question is either charisma or integrity, or a combination of the two.

  3. I saw in the first few words that you had mentioned Missy and I’m always motivated to read about people’s families or their experiences — personal stuff. So that’s why I kept reading. 🙂

  4. A most interesting post!

    I often consider this from many different angles: As a business owner, I have to motivate my workers. Some are men, some are women. Big differences. I have one emp that is ONLY motivated by dollar signs. Another guy needs me to put my arm around him and let him know how much he means to our company. One woman is motivated by compliments.

    On the other hand, I have to train the salespeople to go meet a potential client, and within MINUTES figure out what their motivators are. Often times, this must be done on a phone call. Know the motivator(s) isn’t enough; one must then take that knowledge and put it into effective action.

    I’ve done sales where I feel I’ve absolutely NAILED their motivators…then go in for a hard sale and get torn to pieces. Because I was waaay wrong. Selling someone the way you think they need to be sold is a recipe for disaster. You’ve gotta talk their language…thus the motivators.

    But being a Christian blog, I imagine you were going in a more eternal direction. This is why I’m of the opinion that we need multiple bible classes for adults. I think there comes a time when a person needs to be able to pull everyone together and speak to them all in a language they understand, and that person is…..the preacher. For classes, I’d prefer to see choices that allow a person to learn in their comfort zone, and according to the nature of their gifts.

    Sidenote: This is why being a preacher is probably the most difficult PR job in the world.

    I’m also of the opinion that this is why the COC took such a hard-right move in the 20th century. Think about it: The leaders are all men. Men tend to be more knowledge-oriented and analytical. A man less like this that appeals to the heart more is seen as soft, and it is a losing proposition to debate law with a legalist.

    So the men that gravitated towards leadership and respect in the COC were men that had a gift of knowledge, but no so much of the gifts like mercy, faith, discernment, warmness, etc. These gifts are soft and weak, and more appropriate for women. The women can go and use these gifts on the girls, babies, shut-ins, and widows. As for the church, we’ll pursue knowledge and make sure we are really “right”.

    I think the problem continues today.

    …And I’ll end this post the same way that you ended yours, Matt. This post has a problem. Unless you are interested in the way the mind works and WHY things happen the way they do–and what motivates those decisions–then this couldn’t be of less interest.

    1. JMF,

      Thank you for sharing your insights on sales and motivation. I think that does shed some light on things. You do have to hit the hot button for people in order for them to see the importance of change. The challenge is finding their button when it is different from your own, or knowing how someone with a different button than yours is most effectively reached. Hopefully, the more we talk about these things the more effective we will communicate the gospel in a way that is motivating to more and more people…all the while retaining the beautiful truth that the Gospel contains.

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