Want to know the key to motivating someone?

Do you want to know the key to motivating someone?  Now, I am not talking about manipulating someone or trickery to force them to do things your way.  Get all those thoughts out of your head.  I am talking about genuine, good-willed motivation for someone you love.

LRbookimageSteve and I have been facilitating a Love and Respect course at our church.  We have about 30 couples that are meeting for 14 weeks over the summer to learn how to nurture their marriages.  Our demographics are all over the map….ages range from 19-67, years married range from engaged couples-32 years.  It’s an awesome, diverse group of people with one beautiful thing in common….they want their marriages to thrive.  And they are seeking God and His word, through the Love and Respect course, to lead them in their journey.

The study is full of rich information, all bible-based.  Dr. Emerson Eggerichs does a great job of breaking down scripture about marriage into imagery and easy-to-understand concepts.  One of the concepts he focuses on is motivation.

Especially when we are in a disagreement with our spouse, we want to “motivate” them to see our side, to join us, to even apologize and then still join us.  You get the drift.  A lot of times we draw a line in the sand, which creates division and will eventually grow into resentment.  In order to “motivate” them to our side, we may do so by shaming, by name-calling, by pointing out their faults or how wrong they are about a particular situation.  We tend to disagree in a very selfish way.

Does this method work for you?  Yeah, I didn’t think so.  It doesn’t work for me, either.  And I am the one guilty of this method in our marriage.  There are other methods that aren’t so hot, either, but I am going to move on toward the method that Eggerichs believes does work!

According the Dr. Eggerichs, the key to motivating a person is by meeting their deepest need.  Yep, that’s it.  I am a very visual learner, so I see it like this….the method I mentioned earlier is like a tightened fist, held so strongly that the knuckles are white, not releasing and certainly not giving to others whatever it is they are clinging to.  On the other hand, Dr. Eggerichs approach of meeting the other person’s need is the image of an open hand, extending arm, palm out…giving, open, free.

That open hand is vulnerable, though.  And that’s the hard part.  We have to open ourselves to the possibility of pain in order to truly give to others.  We have to let our guard down.  We have to care more about them than we care about being right. 

Have you ever heard the saying, “Do you want to be right or do you want to be married?”  Well, this goes right along with that.  What is more important to you?

So, sometimes your spouse’s greatest need is going to be words of praise even when you think they are undeserving of those words.  Sometimes your spouse needs an apology and a request for forgiveness.  Sometimes they may just need a hug, intimate affirmation of your love for them.  Whatever it is, don’t consider your act of giving as “giving up” or a sign of weakness.  On the contrary, it is a great strength to give unconditional love.  It is a great strength to care more about someone else than you care about yourself.

And, friends…isn’t that exactly what Jesus did for us?  He knew that we needed grace, forgiveness and mercy…and he gave that unconditionally on the cross.  I can’t think of a better example of meeting someone’s greatest need.

Next time you are at a standstill, so to speak….consider this: The key to motivating another person is to meet their greatest need.



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