Thursday, October 01, 2015

What Gets People to Want What’s Right?

There are better ways to motivate than should, ought, and must

Since I first heard it as a child, I have been fascinated by Aesop’s fable of the contest between the wind and the sun to see who can make a man remove his winter coat.

As a child, hearing it for the first time, I expected that the wind’s greater power made it the obvious winner. But, of course, the more the wind blew, the more the man grasped his coat. When the sun beamed gently on the man, warming him, he naturally wanted to remove his coat. The sun created an environment that helped the man make a choice. The sun’s example holds powerful potential for ministry.

When we have a direction we want our congregation to go, how do get them to go that way? Without blustering or manipulation, how do we create an environment that is naturally conducive to the new direction?

One of the challenges in pastoral work is that we want people to make choices that are healthy for the community. If we force them or pressure them, will they resent it? If we make the decision for them, do we deny them the opportunity to move toward it themselves? How can we create an environment that creates space, an invitation to move towards, instead of just pushing from behind? Read more

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