Monday, February 27, 2012

Coaching Intrinsic Motivation

One of the ways our family lives missionally, is by having students from other countries live with us while they attend college.  They learn U.S. culture in our home which is a safe place where they can ask questions, make mistakes, practice their English, and see and experience how Christians live and relate to each other and the world around them.  This has worked out great for all of us - until this semester.  The two girls who came to live with us lasted just 6 weeks, and then they left because according them, "the environment was not good".  They went back to their previous environment.

Many jump into the adventure of simple, organic and missional church and then end up leaving because the experience was not what they expected.  They return to old environments that feel safe, require less, are more familiar, and fit their expectations. Not everyone likes to live in a simple, organic, and missional way once they find out what the environment requires of them.  It requires personal responsibility for their own intimate relationship with God, and then with others both Christian and not.  It requires initiative.  It forces a deeper level of accountability, and a participatory expectation that many are surprised by, and don't have the motivation to pursue.

People are their own best motivators. 

Psychologists have determined there are two different ways people are motivated; intrinsic and extrinsic.

Intrinsic motivation occurs when someone is driven by an interest or enjoyment of something that exists from within the person.  For example, for someone who loves to read, reading many books in a given year is pleasurable, fulfilling and is not thought of as a chore, but rather enjoyable.

Extrinsic motivation occurs when someone or something from the outside of the person initiates and sustains the motivation.  Some examples of this are grades, fulfilling the wishes of others, abiding by the law, working for tips as a waiter, etc.

As someone who has spent hours and hours coaching people in the simple, organic and missional journey, I can tell you that it is a waste of time, if they don't have intrinsic motivation. 

Many people initially think they want this paradigm. Then, they begin to understand that the environment is different.  Much like our past students who left our home because they determined that "the environment was not good." Many find the realities of living simple, organic and missional are different than what they expected.  They lost, or never really had, the intrinsic motivation for this paradigm. 

A benefit of good coaching is that it asks the right questions.  It begins to unlock within you, just what is "the environment" your looking for, because that will be the only thing that will motivate you to find and live it.  Good coaching taps into your intrinsic motivation and encourages what God is doing within you.


  1. A young woman who has become a good friend after becoming our translator in Central Asia pursued a scholarship to study in America. Her ambition was to learn English & leave Central Asia asap. Her host family were followers of Jesus who patiently answered her questions until one day on the front lawn she simply yielded her life to Jesus. That resulted in an Saul/Paul type of experience & she went back to Central Asia in faith to see disciple making movements birthed there!

  2. What a great testimony to the power of our homes and sharing it with others to bring Kingdom impact! Thanks for sharing it Steve!
    My hope is that more people would see the opportunity that their home and hospitality gives the Holy Spirit to move and work in people's lives in powerful ways.

  3. Hey Katie. Have you read "How People Grow" by Cloud and Townsend? They talk about something similar.

    What they point out is that we lack the ability to self-discipline or self-control (which are foundational elements for motivation). Discipline always comes from outside and is then adopted internally. This discipline comes through yielding to the Holy Spirit (one of the fruits: self control), with one of the primary means God uses is other people.

    So from their perspective, your coaching is a way that God is conveying discipline/self-control to their heart via the Holy Spirit's work through you. Neat huh?

  4. I like it Chris!

    I will look for the book, as I have not read that one yet, and appreciate you mentioning it.

    I always want to be "on the team" with the Holy Spirit in coaching or anything else.....

    Thanks brother!