Motivating People-The Right Way

“Fools have no interest in understanding, they only want to air their own opinions” Proverbs 18:2 NLT

Yikes.   This post gets right under my fingernails and lifts without a care.  Ouch.  Double ouch.

I am kind of jumping off from a sermon I heard in church this past Sunday.  I’m all about the application, so I am reeeeeaaaallly trying to apply this to my life and become a better human being.  That doesn’t mean it’s easy.  It’s hard.  I am going against a grain that was set in the wood many moons ago.  Fighting nature, folks.

I want to motivate people God’s way. The way I want things and the way I do things are not married together.  Heck, they aren’t even third cousins.  Through the years I have learned several ways to get loved ones and friends to see the light.

Bullying, manipulating, passive aggressive behavior modification through social media, crying, and tattling.  Those are just a few.  I am sure if I sat down and really thought about it, I could come up with hundreds.  The worst way I have ever tried to motivate someone is to shame them into changing.  Ever tried that?

Example:  Susie So and So is not living right.  If there were a list of things to do wrong in ones twenties, she is doing them all.  (We can use our imaginations, or let us just reflect on our own twenties.) Me, having lived through a Susie type mess, comes in with all kinds of advice, feelings and expectations.  Susie takes my advice, feelings and expectations and promptly throws them out the window.  I get offended and write Susie off as a hopeless case.  But, I am not so cruel that I would not open my arms wide to let her back in my life for an “I told you so.”  In the meantime, I have a good ole time discussing my “concerns” about Susie with family, friends, co-workers, the garbage man, the mail man, the lady at the check out counter, the telemarketer, and door to door salesmen. (Kidding, but it could have easily grown into that.)

“What a shame, what folly, to give advice before listening the the facts!” Proverbs 18:13 NLT

In my case, Susie’s naysayers were coming to me.  A lot.  I would hear out the complaints and then come up with a list of things we should do to show her that we loved her, but were not going to enable her.  Sounds great on the surface.  But I would often find myself examining my motivation.  Was the goal actually to lift up this person and get her on a path to self-sufficiency?  Or was there a drill instructor mentality that said we should tear this person down and build them back up in our own image?  I kept getting a nudge that it was the latter.   That left me scratching my head and wondering how do you challenge someone?  When someone is down in the dumps, how do you teach them to get themselves out without doing all the work for them?  What if the person acts like they want everyone to do it for them?

“Any story sounds true until someone sets the record straight.” Proverbs 18:17

Okay, so that’s a yield sign.  Do I know the whole story?  When a person is faltering, should my immediate assumption be that they are “up to no good”?  And, if they are up to no good, does that mean that I should close the door on them until they straighten out?  Or should I carefully, and lovingly encourage them without allowing them to walk all over me?  Well, I still think both options are  something to think about prayerfully, and cautiously.  But, and it’s a big one, Jesus chose to meet me just where I am.  Warts and all.  He met me with open arms.  He said to love one another.  So how can I not do the same for a loved one who is hurting?  I need to close my mouth and open my arms.

“But then God our Savior showed us His kindness and love.  He saved us, not because of the good things we did, but because of His mercy.” Titus 3:4

“But if anyone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need and refuses to help-how can God’s love be in that person?”  1 John 3:17

“Dear children, let us stop just saying we love each other; let us really show it by our actions.  It is by our actions that we know we are living in the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before the Lord,” 1 John 3:18-19

From that, I get that we are to show our love in our actions toward others.  What the person does with that help is their business.  If they want to smile and rub their hands about how they can manipulate people, so be it.  I must also be careful after helping to not picture them rubbing their hands and laughing an evil laugh.  I can’t see straight into their heart.  Only God can.


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