Motivating for Excellence

Leadership Dynamic:

Believe the best in People to acquire the best from people.


Solomon wrote: “Like apples of God in settings of silver/Is a word spoken in right circumstances” (Proverbs 25:11).   “A man has joy in an apt answer.  And how delightful is a timely word!” (Proverbs 15:23).  Everyone needs the proverbial “pat on the back.”  Commendation is a way of expressing appreciation for others.  How many leaders have said to you, “Why should I knock myself out? Nobody really cares anyway.”

During a pastor’s fellowship meeting, conferees were encouraged to express gratitude to those who are faithful in the Lord’s service.  A pastor shared his concern about what was said.  He said, “Aren’t we supposed to do things for the glory of God and not for the praise of man?”  He is right.  God must receive the glory for what the church does.  I asked him if he ever went to the vestibule of his church to greet the people as they left worship.  He replied that he did.  I asked the pastor if he enjoyed compliments about his sermon.  “Yes”, the pastor said.  “I would be lying if I said I didn’t.”  He answered his own question!  That is commendation! Everyone needs it.

Next Sunday take one of your workers off to the side and say to them, “You really mean lot to me. I appreciate what you’re doing.”  Commendation builds the spirit.

A word of caution is necessary.  If you compliment one, compliment all.  The appearance of favoritism is extremely dangerous.  Make sure your commendation is authentic and justified.

I often wonder how other employees feel when a colleague is declared “Employee of the Month.”  When I see this notice in restaurants or motels or other businesses, I often ask myself these questions:  How many employees have had this recognition?  How many standards are lowered to recognize an employee?

When a worker accomplishes something special, recognize their achievements.  The next time someone in your church earns an award of some type, ask them to the front of the church, commend them, and give them a firm handshake.  When someone receives Christ as Savior, bring their friend to the front and recognize them for helping this person come to the Lord.  Commend people for their efforts.

Make commendation both public and private.  It is easy for a pastor or staff member to write a brief “Thank-you” note.  Write something like the following:

Dear _____________,

Just a note to express my appreciation for you.  I am glad you are a part of the team here at First Church.

This week, during my personal devotional time, I will be thanking our Lord for you, your work, and your ministry.  If you have a special need or prayer request, please call.  I will be more than happy to pray about it with you.  Simply share your request with me.

Once again, thank you for your service and ministry.


(Your Name)


Many pastors have made this a common practice in their ministry.  One pastor said, “There were literally hundreds of times people said to me, ‘Pastor, your note came to me at just the right time.  Thank you for your prayers.’”  This type of commendation is a motivating factor in the lives of many people.



Is your church plagued with inconsistent workers?  Do not despair.  Many churches have the same problem.  Workers may be inconsistent because of inconsistent leadership.  How many times has it been said to potential leaders, “If you will take this responsibility, we will provide training opportunities to help you,” knowing all along such opportunities would not be provided?  This is hypocrisy.  It is a lie!  Many people have good intentions.  They mean well.  They just don’t deliver.  They have not been honest with their leadership.  This is inconsistency.

Let’s note how inconsistency is taught.  Leaders are encouraged to attend a worker planning meeting.  Does the pastor and or staff attend these meeting?  Many times, no.  Church leaders emphasize the importance of an outreach emphasis.  If members attend, will their pastors attend?  If people can count on others to be consistent, they can be motivated.

Many times church staff have become totally frustrated with the church programs, especially an outreach emphasis.  When inquiring what happens during that time, it is discovered that the pastor, minister of education, or other staff members did not even attend!  Workers and members follow the example of their leaders.  When church leaders are consistent in soul winning, others will follow.  Staff members have expressed frustration about declining attendance.  However, a major problem in much of our church work is the lack of consistency.  When workers can count on their leaders, they can be motivated.