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Mixed Messages About Motivation?


The secular world, including those in our school communities and beyond, hear from many writers and speakers about motivation from within. Daniel H. Pink’s book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us 2011), is no exception.  Traditional perspectives hold that people are motivated only by what they stand to gain or lose- the carrot-and-stick approach. That’s a mistake, says Pink, who asserts that the secret to high performance and satisfaction-at work, at school, and at home—  is the “drive” to grow and realise full potential, both individually and collectively.


Paul Tripp (2012) writes that awe of God should in some way motivate everything we do, say and think. He gives many examples, including awe of God should be the reason we do what we do with our thoughts, desire what we desire, function the way we do at our jobs- paid and unpaid- or handle our finances.  It should structure the way we think about possessions, positions, and power. Awe of God should shape and motivate all of our relationships- with family, work colleagues and neighbours, give direction to the way we live as a citizen in our communities and frame our expectations of ourselves and others.


As Christians, we seek to work for the Gospel, and this should be the driving motivation that rules every domain of our existence. We can find a call to re-focus our workplace attitude in Pink’s statement that there are three conditions that make for the kind of work that is engaging, innovative, and impactful over time.  

  • The first condition, autonomy, is the recognition that people are valued individuals in a community and thrive when treated accordingly.
  • The second condition, mastery, is a desire for constant improvement in things that matter
  • Thirdly, purpose- a desire to be a part of a group that transcends each of us as an individual (Stewart, 2012).


Paul clearly expounds the reason for the cross- Jesus came so that “those who live may no longer live for themselves, but for him who loved them and gave himself for them” (2 Corinthians 5:15). Pink’s three conditions can help us re-focus our motivations under God’s grace and in our awe of Him:

  • ‘Love one another as I have loved you’ (John 13:34) – autonomy in the recognition of the value of each person
  • Discipleship growth as Christian mastery and
  • The desire to be a part of the Kingdom – purpose.


In the context of our faith in the Lord Jesus, consider these points:

  • Does my motivation centre around living every aspect of my life for Jesus?
  • Do I engage in my workplace both individually and collectively, with my motivation being  the Gospel message?


Want to know more?

The Puzzle of Motivation (18:36 mins)


How to Persuade Others with the Right Questions: Jedi Mind Tricks from Daniel H. Pink (4:17 mins.)




Pink, D. H. (2011)  Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us


Stewart, H. (2012) Good Faith Hunting: How Baby Boomers Help Recapture a Biblical View of Faith


Tripp, P (2012)   The Motivation Behind Everything We Do and Say

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