Living Sacrifice Motive

Monday: Motivations

Romans 12:1 In this week’s study, we see that we must look at our Christian life in view of God’s mercy.

What is it that motivates people to achieve all they are capable of achieving or to “be all that you can be,” as the Army recruitment ads have it? There are a number of answers. 

One way to motivate people is to challenge them. Dale Carnegie, the author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, tells of a mill manager whose workers were not producing. The owner was named Charles Schwab, and he asked the manager what was wrong. “I have no idea,” he said. “I’ve coaxed the men; I’ve pushed them; I’ve sworn and cussed; I’ve threatened them with damnation and being fired. Nothing works. They just won’t produce.” 

“How many heats did your shift make today?” Schwab asked.


Without saying anything else, Schwab picked up a piece of chalk and wrote a big number “6” on the floor. Then he walked away. 

When the night shift came in they saw the “6” and asked what it meant. “The big boss was here today,” someone said. “He asked how many heats the day shift made, and we told him six. He chalked it on the floor. 

The next morning Schwab walked through the mill again. The night shift had rubbed out the “6” and replaced it with an even bigger “7.” When the day shift reported the next day they saw the “7.” So the night shift thought it was better than the day shift, did it? They’d show them. They pitched in furiously, and before they had left that evening they had rubbed out the “7” and replaced it with a “10.” Schwab had increased production 66 percent in just twenty-four hours simply by throwing down a challenge.1

Napoleon, the French general, said that men are moved by trinkets. He was referring to medals, and he meant that soldiers would risk even death for recognition. 

Winston Churchill, the great British statesman and Prime Minister during the hard days of the Second World War, motivated the British people by his vision of victory and by brilliant speeches. We can remember some of his words today: “Blood, toil, tears and sweat,” “Victory—victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror; victory however long and hard the road may be,” “Their finest hour.” 

This week I’ll examine what our motivations for godly living are, as well as what they should be. 

1Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1963), 173-176.

Study Questions
  1. List some ways to motivate people.
  2. Why can each one be an effective method?

Reflection: What is it that motivates you? When you have completed a challenging project, what is it that has kept you going? How do you think your motivations differ from those of non-Christians?

For Further Study: Download for free and listen to Donald Barnhouse’s message, “John Newton’s Text.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)

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