motivation and encouragement

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I really enjoy mentoring young leaders.Others have told me that I am an encourager, and after many years, I think I finally believe that is true. For that reason, when I came out low in “motivation” in a recent 360 evaluation, I took that feedback soberly and began to ask questions and do some research.

I originally thought the two actions were similar and wondered how could I be good at one and weak at the other? When I compared the definitions between encourage and motivate, I realized there are some key differences.

Various dictionaries define the two words this way:

Encourage – 1: to inspire with courage, confidence, or hope, 2: to stimulate, spur on, 3: to give help or support. Synonyms are: inspirit, hearten, or embolden – the idea being to fill with courage or strength of purpose, or to raise one’s confidence especially by an external agency.

Motivate – 1: to provide with a motive, 2: to give incentive to; move to action; impel. Motivation = a motivating force, stimulus, or influence

I checked the Bible also, and there are very few references to motivate or motivation – most references warn against wrong or evil motives. Encouragement, on the other hand, appears at least 35 times – often associated with strengthen and perseverance during action already in process. says that, “Motivation is literally the desire to do things. It’s the difference between waking up before dawn to pound the pavement and lazing around the house all day. It’s the crucial element in setting and attaining goals—and research shows you can influence your own levels of motivation and self-control….”

Frederick Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory, (intrinsic/extrinsic motivation), suggests that the factors that motivate people can change over their lifetime, but respect as a person is one of the top motivating factors at any stage of life.

I recognize that I am basically a self-motivated person. I wake up in the morning with motive, incentive, purpose.I don’t need someone else to move me to action… I am already ready to go! As the day goes on, however, I can get discouraged, worn out, or tired by the struggles, conflicts, and challenges that battle against my goals and desires.

That is when I really appreciate encouragement from others… a bit of “You can do it!” or “I believe in you” keeps me moving forward..

When someone has a vision, dream or calling, I love to encourage them… letting them know I believe in them, cheering them on when they are battle-weary, and looking for ways to provide resources to help them.

I realize that I am weak when others lack desire, vision and motivation. If they don’t already have a goal, something they want to accomplish, or a purpose for action, then I feel at a loss for how to help them.

From my study so far I have learned that I can improve my ability to motivate by communicating and imparting vision better and more often. I can also ask others what motivates them and learn about incentives and reasons for action. I can work to treat people with respect. Maybe one of the most important things I can do is to pray for the person. Motivation is going to grow from within… and it is God who is best at changing the heart.

Do you like to motivate or encourage others, or maybe both? How do you do that?