More Motivating

Here is some more thoughts on motivation within the church.

Motivation and performance

Motivation is from within a person. There is little a supervisor can do to motivate a person directly except to provide a good environment for motivation. The essence of leadership is helping people to become motivated. The process of motivation is need, goal, act, and satisfaction.

Performance is a function of ability and motivation. Satisfaction increases when the worker is able to perform a job effectively, when his performance is equitably rewarded, and when the rewards match the needs.

There is no inherent relationship between performance and satisfaction. It is usually agreed that satisfaction will increase performance, but not necessarily.

There are four possible combinations:
1. High satisfaction and low performance
2. Low satisfaction and high performance
3. High satisfaction and high performance
4. Low satisfaction and low performance

William James of Harvard found that hourly employees could maintain their jobs (not be fired) by working at approximately 20–30% of their ability. Employees work at 80–90% of ability when highly motivated. If motivation is low, then performance will suffer as much as if ability was low.

The percentage of ability that is affected by motivation is about 60% of a person’s ability. Many church volunteers are really performing at only about 20–30% of their ability because of a lack of motivation, not lack of ability.

Motivation and probability of success

People are not highly motivated if a goal is seen as almost impossible or is seen as virtually certain to be achieved. The degree of motivation and effort rise until the probability of success reaches 50%, then begins to fall even though the probability of success continues to increase. The curve is a true bell shaped curve. Goals that are set should be challenging (not certain to be achieved), but also attainable (not impossible) to have the maximum of motivation.

Motivation, learning and reinforcement

Leaders can influence the behavior of followers through learning and reinforcement. Most behaviors are acquired through learning. Rewarded behaviors are repeated often enough to be learned. Unrewarded behaviors are discontinued. Learning is ultimately a change in behavior. Behavioral learning is based on stimulus-response (S-R). Operant conditioning is based on receiving rewards or avoiding punishments. Behavior can be controlled by consequences––rewarded or punished.

Reinforcement through behavior modification can be accomplished in two ways. First, increase the rate of desirable behaviors. This can be positive reinforcement using primary reinforcer (food, water, love, work, play) or secondary reinforcers (praise, pay increase, promotion, or status). This can be done by using negative reinforcement and removing the punishment. Second, decrease the rate of undesirable behaviors. This may be through extinction by not rewarding behaviors, causing them to disappear. This can be done by withholding a pay raise, ignoring the behavior, or even by giving no response. This may also be done by punishment through harassment, reprimand, rejection, or discharge.

Reinforcers or rewards can be scheduled and administered in several ways:

1. Through continuous reinforcement. Each time the correct response is given, it is followed by a reinforcer, such as with vending machines, water fountain, and teaching machines.

2. Through intermittent rewards. This is commonly used to administer organizational rewards. It might be with a fixed interval such as regular paychecks and fringe benefits. It might be through a variable interval where the timing is unpredictable or not scheduled, such as promotions, pay raises, or pop quizzes. It might be a fixed ratio as in piece work, rate incentives, or sales commission. It might be through a variable ratio where there is a differential piece rate ($12 for first 100, and then $15 after that) or a progressive grading system.

3. Through partial reinforcement where the amount of reinforcement and time interval vary significantly. This is used in gambling and in contests, but rarely in administration.

There is an established procedure for behavior modification using the operant conditioning learning theory. First, define the target behavior that will have the greatest impact on organizational goals. Then set performance goals or standards that are based on targeted behavior and expressed in quantifiable terms. Next, measure the performance progress. This provides feedback and relates performance to rewards. Now one is ready to reward good performance. An immediate reward is better. If rewards cannot be given, then use punishment but sparingly. The punishment should be commensurate with the severity of the undesirable behavior. Give immediate punishment. Administer the punishment by a person other than the rewarder (a hatchet man). Give suggestions for improvement along with the punishment.

Planning a Strategy

After goals have been established and priorities assigned, then strategies for accomplishing the goals need to be planned. The strategies are the actions, activities, projects, and programs that will be necessary to accomplish the goals.

Taking the time to plan a strategy can be a real time saver. Planning is actually the process of deciding the best way to get from where one is to the place he wants to be. When enough time is given to planning, then the total time for accomplishing a project may be shorter than if a person began to work on the project without taking sufficient time to plan. If a person fails to plan his use of time, then he may not get the work accomplished which God intends for him to do. A person cannot add hours to a day, or days to his life. He must plan his use of time to ensure the best usage of it. It is generally held that one hour spent in effective planning will save 3–4 hours in execution and obtain better results.

A strategy needs to be planned for each immediate and short-term goal. The strategies for the longer term goals can wait until they are closer to realization. A simple chart can be used for this planning process. It should have the following sections which are the progressive steps to follow:

Present Situation:
Hindering Forces:
Helping Forces:

Below is an example of the planning strategy.


To have one person every week to accept Jesus Christ as personal Savior during the next twelve months as a result of my personal witnessing efforts.

The goal should have the characteristics given earlier. It should be specific, challenging but attainable, measurable, dated, and written.

Present situation

I find that without a measurable goal, my witnessing is not as consistent, nor as pressing as it really should be. 

After selecting a goal, the first step is to appraise the present situation. The goal would indicate where one wants to go and in what length of time. However, where is the starting point? Why was this goal chosen? What kinds of needs are present in that area? One or two statements written about the present situation will help remind a person of where he is in relation to the goal.

Hindering forces

1. Personal lack of boldness
2. Busy personal schedule
3. Failure to come in contact with many lost persons
4. Uncertainty of best method to use

Hindering forces will always be there. They existed before the goal writing procedure was started. If a person fails to achieve a goal, it may be because he failed to plan a strategy that would overcome the hindering forces. These should be recognized, and a defense planned for them. The goal that requires a lot of change from the present situation will have more hindering forces than one requiring less change. A great leader used to say that one should attempt to find one hundred solutions to every possible problem. This is basically what one does as he considers the hindering forces.

Helping forces

1. Conviction about the need to be personally involved in soul winning
2. Knowledge and experience in witnessing used successfully in the past
3. Constant influence at church to be involved in soul winning
4. Bible commands that soul winning is every Christian’s job
5. Lost people around me needing a witness from me

Helping forces also exist and need to be recognized. These forces will help a person to move from the present situation to the goal. They serve as very valuable assets. They represent the advantages a person has. If the goal is a good goal, there will be many things that can be called helping forces.


1. Witness to a minimum of five persons each week.
2. Keep a journal of witnessing efforts that will include those who actually accept Christ as Savior.
3. Pray daily for boldness.
4. Pray daily for opportunities to witness.
5. Always carry a New Testament and some tracts.
6. Be alert to witnessing opportunities.
7. Read at least six books next year on soul winning. These should include both how to and motivation books.

Everything done up to this point has been in preparation for this step. If a person stops before this, there will be some motivation for improvement, but no specific plans for improvement have been made. This part of the self-improvement process is very important. One cannot start here, as each part of the study up to this point has been important preparation. However, one must not stop before completing this, or much of the previous effort will be for nothing.

What actions, activities, programs, or projects can be used to help accomplish the goal? Review again the hindering forces, and suggest some things that can be done to overcome them.

The kinds of things which might be listed are almost endless. It might include training activities such as reading a book, attending a conference, or even taking a class. It probably would include adding specific requests to one’s daily prayers. It would include many different kinds of things to do, some daily, some weekly or monthly, and some maybe to be done only once. Everything needed to accomplish a goal should be planned for at this point.

It will be better to have too much planned rather than to have too little. A person needs to really turn the mind loose on this and attempt to discover every possible activity that can be used to help in achieving the goal.

This process of planning strategies can be compared to a journey. The goal is the destination. The present situation is the starting point. The hindering forces are the obstacles or barriers that will make the journey difficult. The actions are the things that will be done to move toward the goal. As one writes down all these things, he is planning the strategy for accomplishing his goals based on his objectives. Now one is ready to schedule time to do all the activities.