My professor asked an interesting question today: What's the difference between motivating people and manipulating them? Here's the qualifier for motivation: we cannot really do anything to motivate someone internally. For example, I can tell my kids all day long to clean their rooms. I can manipulate them to do so by telling them they will not leave the house to do anything with a friend until the room is clean. In order for them to clean their rooms without instruction or keep their rooms clean they have to have a motivation that comes from within themselves. I can tell Josh over and over again how important his grades are for getting into college, but until he has an inner motivation to succeed, all the manipulating I do will achieve a short-term result, but not a lasting change.
The context of the question for class was in relationships within ministry. I can "guilt" people into doing ministry or manipulate them in some way, but how does one motivate people to desire to become involved in the ministry of the church and not just "pew sitters?" Or, in our case since we don't have pews, chair sitters. More importantly, how are people motivated to have a deeper, intimate relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ which results in an outward change in their lives? An outward change that is reflected by the way we act, how we serve, and how we treat others.
Then, she asked us to contemplate this question: are we personally more likely to motivate others or manipulate them -- what is our own personal tendency? Where is the line between motivation and manipulation and is it distinct?
So, what do you think: motivate or manipulate?
Serving the King,