In a small country town, every day, at 3:00 in the afternoon, the pastor would walk to the station, watch the train roar through town, and then return to the church. The chairman of deacons asked him why he did that. The pastor explained, "It encourages me to see something move in this town that I don't have to push!" He was talking about MOTIVATION. As leaders, one of our primary tasks is to motivate the people of God to do the work of God. So how do we motivate others?
Element # 1 is EXPLANATION. To influence others’ behavior we have to explain at least three things. First, we have to clearly explain what needs to be done. Then, we have to reassure them that, if they are willing to try, they really can do what we've asked them to do. Then, we must convince them that it is in their best interest to do this thing. .
Element # 2 is PARTICIPATION. Unless people have "ownership" in the church's goals and plans, they will not be motivated to help reach those goals. I learned this lesson well while serving in a particular church a few years ago. Few of the members were in top leadership positions at work. Because they had little control over the decisions made at work, they were determined to control the decisions made at the church. They were motivated only by their ideas. That's true of most churches. People are motivated by goals they participated in setting.
Element # 3 is IDENTIFICATION. One of the reasons our members are not motivated to do well the jobs they have is because many of them are in the wrong jobs! They are in the wrong jobs because we have not taken seriously the biblical principle of spiritual gifts. The Holy Spirit has given to each of us a spiritual gift and along with that gift, a ministry in which to use it. Putting the right person with the right gift in the right place is one of the best ways to motivate them.
Element # 4 is AFFIRMATION. Someone recently said, "Man does not live by bread alone. He also needs buttering up!" That's true. Nothing motivates other people like a word of encouragement. Leo Buscaglia tells of a teacher who divided the class into three groups. In group A, she only put the grade on the paper, nothing more. In group B, she put the grade and a word like: good, or fine, or excellent. In group C, she wrote each a little note of encouragement and affirmation. At the end of the year, she did a statistical evaluation and she discovered that while group A and group B stayed at the same level academically, every person in group C improved! Nothing motivates like affirmation!
Element # 5 is SANCTIFICATION. Everything I have said thus far is on the human level. Success depends on a more powerful motivation than that, and this is what I mean by sanctification. The most motivated people I know are those Christian men and women who enjoy an intimate, growing relationship with God. In the final analysis, it is not what we do to people that motivates them but what God does in them.
I love the statement made by Mother Theresa. Someone asked Mother Theresa what energized her to work from before dawn until midnight every day. She answered, "I take the blessed sacrament every morning." She was motivated by that daily reminder of the presence of God in her life. The best way to motivate people to do the work of God is to inspire them to have an intimate walk with God that will animate and energize and inspire them. That is the ultimate motivation.
In J. Oswald Sanders' book on Spiritual Leadership, he concluded a series of definitions of leadership with this suggestion: "The best test of whether one is a qualified leader is to find out whether anyone is following him." A leader is one who has followers. Motivating others to follow is therefore one of the primary tasks of leadership.