Evangelism Made Personal
Having The Right Motivation In Evangelism
With the right motivation behind our efforts in evangelism, the job will get done. Whenever evangelism does not occur, lack of motivation (or in some cases, improper motivation) is always at the root of the problem!
(The "Steam" That Drives The Train)
What Is "motivation?"
As defined by Denis Waitley in his book, "The Joy Of Working"...
- "Motivation is an inner drive, an idea captured in the imagination."
- "Motivation can be harnessed to an intense drive toward a goal."
- "Men and women who are motivated push themselves forward, plow through the inevitable setbacks, heading ever onward to their dreams."
- "Motivation is essential to succeeding in any endeavor you try."
So it is with us. If motivated and properly channeled, great things can be done in the area of evangelism. Unfortunately, many people, despite all of the spiritual education they have received on the subject of evangelism, still do very little with what they know. The reason? Lack of proper motivation!
WHAT SHOULD BE OUR MOTIVATION IN EVANGELISM? Well, what motivated Jesus? Certainly He was successful in reaching His goals. Since He is to be our example (1Pe 2:21), whatever motivated Him should be the motivating force driving His disciples.
I can identify at least five things which moved our Lord. The first was...
COMPASSION FOR LOST SOULSJesus was moved with compassion when He saw the mass of lost souls (Mt 9:35-36; 14:14; 15:32). Such compassion motivated Him to do two things.
- First, to ask His disciples to pray that God might "send out laborers into His harvest" (Mt 9:37-38).
- Then, to do something about it Himself (that is, to select and send out His apostles (Mt 10:1,5-7).
How can we develop or strengthen this compassion for lost souls? The best way is LET GOD TEACH US TO LOVE, as He did with the Thessalonians (1Th 4:9). This He does through the example of Christ (1Jn 3:16- 17). I am suggesting, therefore, that the more we meditate upon God's love for us as manifested in His Son's sacrifice, the more we will come to love others!
It also helps to BE AROUND PEOPLE. To love people, you have to get to know them. When we do, we can begin to appreciate the saying attributed to Will Rogers, "I never met a man I did not like." So beware of becoming "wrapped up in your own little world." Remember that Jesus was one to become involved with "the multitudes."
Have we allowed the love of God to fill our hearts with compassion for the multitude of lost and dying souls? Are we making an effort to be around people and getting to know them?
Jesus also had...
A SENSE OF PURPOSEThis motivating force is seen in our Lord's conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well. While speaking with her, his disciples marveled at what His motive might be (Jn 4:27). Jesus explained: "To do the will of Him who sent Me...to accomplish His work" (Jn 4:34).
He stated this same purpose in life on many other occasions (Jn 5:30, 36; 6:38; 17:4; 19:28-30). And what was the will of His Father? To save a dying world (Jn 3:16). To "seek and save the lost" (Lk 19:10).
Do we have this same "sense of purpose" in our lives? To put first the Father's will? Jesus taught that we should (Mt 6:10,33). But people often have "DIFFERENT PURPOSES" for living. The "workaholics" make their jobs their purpose in life. Many make their families, friends or hobbies the reason for living.
But the "RIGHT PURPOSE" comes from studying God's Word. As we understand God's will for us, we learn that our purpose for being His special people centers around proclaiming the praises of Him who called us (1Pe 2:9-10). One way we do this, of course, is through evangelism.
Have we let the Word of God develop within us the "right sense of purpose"? If not, our motivation will be inadequate!
Another force that moved our Lord was...
THE LOVE OF THE FATHERJesus had experienced "the love of the Father", which prompted Him to love others (Jn 15:9). But it went beyond that. This "love" was such that He wanted to share it with others (Jn 17:26), even if it was necessary for Him to go the cross to make it possible!
Have we experienced "the love of the Father" in our lives? If so, how can we not be moved (motivated) to want to share it with others? Is it not worth sharing? Of course it is! But if we must confess that our sense of the Father's love is not as strong as we would like, how can we develop a greater sense of God's love for us?
The way to experience the Father's love is to "KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS OF JESUS" (Jn 14:21,23). A most important commandment in this regard is the one to love one another as Christ loved us (Jn 15:12). This is because loving one another is crucial to experiencing the love of the Father in our lives. As John wrote: "If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us" (1Jn 4:12).
Another way to increase our experience of the Father's love is to "MAKE OUR LOVE FOR JESUS STRONGER." This is because the Father's love for us is directly related to our love for Jesus (John 16:27). How can one increase their love for Jesus? The best way is to spend time learning more about Him from the Word of God.
Have we experienced the Father's love by loving Jesus and keeping His commandments (esp. loving one another)? If not, we will not have much worth sharing, nor be motivated to share it!
We can also add to our list of the things that motivated Jesus...
THE TERROR OF THE LORDJesus was very much aware of God's "righteous indignation". He taught that we should "fear" God (Mt 10:28). He warned of the judgment to come (Mk 9:43-48). Knowing the "terror of the Lord", Jesus was willing to go to the cross that man might be saved. He even prayed for those crucifying Him (Lk 23:34).
Are we willing to make the effort to save others, like Jesus? We may not have to die for them... But are we even willing to speak to them? Or could it be that we don't take the "terror of the Lord" as serious as Jesus' early disciples did (cf. 2Co 5:11)?
How can we develop a healthy appreciation for "the terror of the Lord"? I recommend frequent "MEDITATING UPON THE WORD OF GOD", especially those portions which describe God's judgments in the past (cf. 2 Pe 2:4-9), and that provide warnings of the Judgment Day to come (2 Th 1:7-10; Re 20:12-15; 21:8).
Have we, like many, become complacent to the fact that there will be a day of judgment and condemnation? Could it be we have not let the Word of God have its true affect on our lives? A lack of concern and involvement in trying to reach the lost for Christ would certainly imply this to be the case!
Finally, we see that the Lord was moved by...
THE JOY SET BEFORE HIMAs expressed by the writer of Hebrews (He 12:2), Jesus was motivated by the joyful prospect of being with His Father, at His Right Hand. Notice that this enabled Him to "endure the cross" and "despise the shame".
Does not the prospect of spending eternity with God move us to do what we can to save souls? It must, if we also are to be willing to "endure the cross" or "despise the shame" that might be involved in evangelism!
To increase our level of appreciating what lies ahead for the faithful, I recommend regular "CONTEMPLATION UPON WHAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR US" as described in the Word of God. I find especially helpful those scenes pictured in Re 7:13-17; 21:1-7.
It also helps to "THINK OF WHAT GOD WILL DO FOR THOSE WE REACH". Paul did, as he describes in1Th 2:19-20; and it gave him great joy that I am sure helped him to PRESS ON teaching others.
ConclusionThe ability to press on...this is the VALUE of proper motivation. Remember our earlier definition of motivation?
"Men and women who are motivated push themselves forward, plow through the inevitable setbacks, heading ever onward to their dreams."Such was case with our Lord... He fulfilled His goals, being motivated by:
- Compassion for lost souls
- A strong sense of purpose
- The love of the Father
- The terror of the Lord
- The joy set before Him
I am convinced the early church looked to Jesus, and found the motivation necessary to grow as they did. I believe that we can do the same today!
It should be apparent by now that the "KEY" to developing and strengthening the proper motivation is to let the Word of God have its intended effect upon us. But if Christians are not daily reading, studying, and meditating upon the Word of God, THEN HOW CAN WE EVER HOPE TO STAY MOTIVATED LIKE JESUS, PAUL AND THE EARLY CHURCH WAS?
I believe that if we DO read, study, and meditate upon the Word of God, then we will be like JEREMIAH...who at first made excuses (Jer 1:6), but as he fed upon the Word found great joy (Jer 15:16). So much so, that when ridiculed for speaking, he first tried to refrain, but found that he just couldn't keep it in (Jer 20:7-9)!
May we also allow God's Word and the example of Jesus to motivate us in evangelizing the lost!