Motivating the Demotivated

Joshua pointed the people to examples of the power of God in God-connected worship, and in the testimonies of God’s grace in the past and in other people’s lives. He breaks down the work into achievable steps and doesn’t allow the division of labor to discourage. He moves them from vision to action.


When I titled this sermon "Motivating the Demotivated" I did not want to imply that there are people who don't have any motivation. People are always motivated to do something - even if that something is to curl up in a ball and wish the world would go away. It's still a kind of motivation. In that case, they are motivated to avoid the psychological pain that is tormenting them. Unless you are unconscious or dead, you are motivated by something. So the title could be a bit misleading. But what I meant by it is motivating people to do God's will when they have lost the motivation to do so. I think the title makes sense in that context.

If your only goal as a parent, work leader, or church leader is to keep people happy, that's easy. Always give your children or others what they want. Of course, God won't be pleased with your leadership if you do that. There are plenty of times when we have to steer our children away from what their flesh wants and instill a desire for pleasing God in their actions. How do you do that? A real leader takes people where they need to go even if they don't want to go there in the first place. Otherwise he is not leading, is he?

So, how does a parent or other leader do that? Even though this passage does not give us an exhaustive list of answers to that question, it certainly gives us a wonderful start. And I've tried to give you a little fuller outline to help with the note taking. Let's look at each verse that shows how Joshua motivated some tribes to reengage the conquest when they had become utterly demotivated to do so.

He points them to examples of the power of God (v. 1)

And the first thing that Joshua did was to point people to the power of God. I think this is the most important point in the whole sermon. And he pointed them to God's power in two ways: first, through God-connected worship and second through inspiring testimonies of what God had already accomplished through others. I have found biographies of missionaries and other Christians to be a tremendous motivator to serve God faithfully till the day I die. But I'm getting ahead of myself. So, enough by way of introduction.

In God-connected worship (v. 1a)

Let's look first of all at the importance of God-connected worship. Verse 1 says, "Now the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of meeting there." Notice that phrase, "tabernacle of meeting." This was where people literally met with God. It wasn't people meeting each other that is being emphasized since the people weren't even in the tent. It's meeting with God. Previously the tabernacle had been set up at Gilgal, but for the next 100 years the tabernacle would remain at Shiloh.

It was called "the tabernacle of meeting" because this was where God's presence was manifested in a very powerful and visible way as the people met with Him to worship. I have found that almost nothing encourages me more than meeting with God and sensing His presence. When you come before God's face and start talking to Him, it almost instantly changes your perspective. You very quickly realize that the things that seemed impossible a few minutes before begin to diminish. And you've probably experienced the same thing.

When I was growing up I could very easily get discouraged and want to give up. When I was in 11th grade I lived with my older brother John. And during that year he recognized a problem with me and began coaching me in what it meant to come before our Father's face. And learning to do that was transformative. Time after time when I would come into God's presence I would instantly begin repenting of unbelief (which I did not recognize a few minutes before) and begin thanking God for His sufficiency (which I also did not recognize a few minutes before). True worship (where you really connect with God) evaporates fear and hopelessness and brings tremendous motivation to be sold out to Him.

In your outlines I gave one artist's idea of what the Shekinah Glory Cloud might have looked like at night. It was a huge pillar of cloud by day and a huge pillar of fire by night that lit up the entire sky. It was impossible not to notice that God was there. Of course, God values us living by faith and not by sight (so there is a balance here), but I am just explaining what happened at this tabernacle of meeting. They really did meet with God. There could be no denying God's literal presence with them. But let me assure you that you can meet with God just as really today by faith and not by sight. God-connected worship transforms the way we do our daily walk.

But here is the thing - people can get so used to God's presence that they take it for granted - until one day they realize that He is no longer there. And I have experienced that too - to lose the sense of God's presence because I have taken Him for granted or even because I have had unconfessed sin. That's not a happy state to be in.

So it is not enough to acknowledge God's presence academically. It is the actual meeting with God in worship that helps to cleanse us of unbelief, apathy, joylessness, hopelessness, and other negative emotions. Gary and I try to press people to have daily meeting with God - real meeting with God in our devotions. And it is important that we teach our children how to do that. And I am so grateful that several of you in this church experience this on a daily basis. Praise God!

So that was the first thing that Joshua did. He had the tabernacle of meeting set up in Shiloh and called the people to meet with God in worship. If you are demotivated, then you cannot ignore this point. We don't want humanistic motivation; we want God-centered, Spirit-empowered motivation that produces kingdom fruit. Amen?

In testimonies of God's grace in the past and in other people's lives (v. 1b)

The next clause shows the other way Joshua motivated the people. He pointed them to God's power at work in the past and at work in other people. The last phrase of verse 1 goes on to speak about how five of the twelve tribes had already subdued their land by God's grace. They had already done what he is expecting the other seven tribes to do. It says, "And the land was subdued before them." Before whom? It had been completely subdued before five of the tribes, and there was now no denying the stark contrast between what God was doing in Israel and what Satan and his demons continued to be doing in the remaining portions of pagan Palestine.

And by the way, not only does a recitation of God's power exhibited in the past encourage our hearts, it can change other people's minds too. I was shocked at how Tom Holland (who is not even a Christian of any sort) could write a book in defense of Christianity because of the enormous contributions that Christianity has made to civilization. His book is Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World1 is one place where he documents this. In that book he points out that life would still be miserable without the influence of Christianity. And more and more atheists are beginning to reconsider the value of Christianity as they begin studying the way Christianity changed the West for the better and is beginning to change Africa and the East for the better. That's noticing the power of God in others. They don't have that power; but they notice it in genuine Christians. In a debate with another atheist, whose name is A.C. Grayling, Tom Holland honestly demonstrated how atheistic worldviews have produced nothing but disaster while Christianity has tamed the world. It's almost as if he wishes he could be a Christian. He sees the fruits.

This is what I mean by seeing the power of God in His past conquests. Even atheists are beginning to recognize it. Atheist Douglas Murray has written clearly on how Western civilization may lose all of its greatness if it loses its Christianity. Atheist and London Times writer, Matthew Parris wrote an essay in 2008 titled, “As an Atheist, I Truly Believe Africa Needs God." In that essay he said,

As a ‘confirmed atheist,’ I’ve become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa … Government projects … alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa, Christianity changes people’s hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good … Those who want Africa to walk tall … must not kid themselves … Removing Christian evangelism from the African equation may leave the continent at the mercy of a malign fusion of Nike, the witch doctor, the mobile phone, and the machete.”2

So close, and yet so far.

I mention these things because it is very easy for us to forget what God has done in even our own lives in the past when we are down in the dumps. Discouragement is a kind of unbelief. It blinds us to God’s goodness. But when you start reading your journals from the past (and journaling is a lost art that should probably be restored - but when you start reading your journals from the past - as I have from time to time), you suddenly cry out in joy that God has come through for you over and over again.

Brothers and sisters, if you are discouraged, I would encourage you to do these first two things: worship God with intensity and with the firm belief that if He is for you, who can be against you. Second, start perusing your diaries of God's work in your life or start reading an inspiring story by a missionary or even an ordinary Christian. I'm not saying that you should read these atheist works that have come out recently. Not at all. I'm just pointing out that when they have reviewed the past honestly they have seen nothing but enormously transforming power in the vibrant Christianity of the past. Well, we Christians will see that with much better eyes when we look at those testimonies. I have been hugely motivated by reading Christian biographies.

He identifies the problem (v. 2)

The next thing that Joshua did was to identify the problem of de-motivation. Verse 2 says,

But there remained among the children of Israel seven tribes which had not yet received their inheritance.

That's a problem. Not all of God's people were possessing their possessions. For some reason they were demotivated, or tired, or discouraged. Well, this means that point number I is not given to turn us into pie-in-the-sky-by-and-by pietists who deny that we have a problem. We are not talking about what some people call a blind leap of faith. Faith is never blind. It’s based on facts. God's power addresses our problems head on and honestly. We must change, and God's grace is sufficient to help us to change.

It is sad to me that so many forms of eschatology today say that defeat is the norm for the Christian - until Christ comes of course. But for the more pessimistic variety of Amillennialists, that means He comes in order to end a miserable history. There is no victory in history for them. For many Premillennialists, it is waiting for Jesus to do all the work for them - He will come and He will set up His kingdom. But it excuses them from doing any work.

In contrast, the book of Joshua was designed to convince the church that God works through us to change history. And during more vibrant times of Christianity in the past, Christians have turned nation after nation upside down - for the good. Holland and others point out that Christianity brought health, wealth, values, rights, healthy relationships, and so many other important things.

He clearly defines the vision (v. 3)

But this means that the next point is important too - Christians must have the right vision. Not just any vision will do; it must be the right vision. During times of downgrade we need to do like Joshua and clearly define God's vision for the future. Verse 3 tells them what God wanted their future to be. Verse 3 says,

Then Joshua said to the children of Israel: “How long will you neglect to go and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers has given you?

Seven of these tribes had to some degree lost the vision of what was supposed to happen. Maybe they had forgotten about the enormous blessings that God confers upon those who take His Word seriously. Or, maybe out of discouragement they had simply given up. We don't have to know why they were demotivated. We just know that they were. There is a pretty strong consensus among commentators that they were. So Joshua reminds them of the glorious vision that God had given (a much fuller vision than they were settling for). In one of his devotional books, Max Lucado said,

...take away our vision, block our view of the trail’s end, and the result is as discouraging as the journey... Listen to the groans of the climbers as they stop and sit by the side of the path. Why continue if there is no relief in sight? Pilgrims with no vision of the promised land become proprietors of their own land. They set up camp. They exchange hiking boots for loafers and trade in their staff for a new recliner.3

And after describing the results of such lack of vision (results that look very much like the modern church), Lucado says,

Mark it down. We are what we see. If we see only ourselves... [then] this world is the limit of their horizon.” Humans were never meant to dwell in the stale fog of the lowlands with no vision of their Creator.4

And I say, "Amen!" We must be people of vision. Though Lucado isn't a postmillennialist (as far as I know) that chapter is the best argument for Postmillennialism ever. Your vision dictates what you can achieve today. It really does. So Joshua reminds them that God's purpose is not just to capture a portion of Canaan. It is to capture all of Canaan. And that is God's purpose for us in the Great Commission today - to leave no stone unturned until all things on planet earth come under the grace and the Kingly dominion of Jesus. All nations must become Christian nations. Do you share that vision?

He breaks down the work into achievable steps (vv. 4-6)

But that's not to say that vision alone is enough. In verses 4-6 Joshua helps them to take concrete steps forward by breaking the enormous work down into smaller achievable steps. Some people get demotivated because they can't see success as possible because they are overwhelmed by how big the vision is. Where do we even start? They get discouraged by seeing the enormous size of the task. We found that when our children would get overwhelmed, we would have to break things down into smaller achievable steps. Let's read through verses 4-6 and then I will comment on them.

4 Pick out from among you three men for each tribe, and I will send them; they shall rise and go through the land, survey it according to their inheritance, and come back to me. 5 And they shall divide it into seven parts. Judah shall remain in their territory on the south, and the house of Joseph shall remain in their territory on the north. 6 You shall therefore survey the land in seven parts and bring the survey here to me, that I may cast lots for you here before the LORD our God.

He encourages the leaders to lead, not to do all the work (v. 4a)

In the first phrase of verse 4 Joshua encouraged the leaders of the tribes to not do all the work themselves. He called them to enlist others to help them with the task. Verse 4 shows that the leaders would each pick three capable men from their tribe who would do a survey of the land.

Now, let's think about that. Sometimes parents find it easier to just do the job that the kids are struggling to do themselves. That's not necessarily always helpful. Yes, we can sometimes model how to do it for them, but then we should help them to step by step do the tasks we assign and help them with their motivation. And you can sort of understand it when parents are busy: initially it takes more time to involve the children than it would to just do everything ourselves. But that is shortsighted. It really is. If we are to get our children past their sense of being overwhelmed by tasks, we still need to have them get involved. Just give instruction on how to take on the onerous jobs a step at a time.

He doesn't micromanage what they will do (v. 4b)

Second, Joshua didn't micromanage them. He gave them the broad task, but he let the 21 men from these seven tribes use their own creativity on how to go about the survey. Joshua says, "I will send them." Joshua is not going to go with them. He is not going to micromanage. He trusts them enough to send them to do the job.

He insisted that everyone get started (v. 4c)

Next, Joshua insists on them immediately getting started. He says, "they shall rise up and go through the land." Sometimes the hardest part of a difficult job for our children is just getting them started. Once they get started, it is easier. In the same way, Joshua gets them going.

He gives each team their own area of work and have their own buy-in (v. 4d)

Next, he doesn't have all 21 doing the survey work for each remaining tribe. Verse 4 goes on to say, "survey it according to their inheritance." Each of those men is going to be far more motivated to do his part of the work if he knows that both the task and the reward will truly be his. There is a sense of satisfaction that individuals or smaller groups can have when they take full ownership of the work. That sense of ownership can easily get lost the bigger the group that is doing it becomes. So he breaks down the tasks in ways where each person will have their own buy-in on their own tasks and it relates to what they will inherit and what they will find satisfaction in. These are just practical step-by-step ways of getting them motivated.

He gives some room for creativity so long as the ultimate goal is achieved (v. 5a)

Next, he gives them some room for creativity - so long as the ultimate goal is achieved. Verse 5 begins, "And they shall divide it into seven parts." Joshua didn’t divide it. Later he will let them know that no matter how the land is divided, each of the remaining tribes will still inherit only what God gives them by lot. So they will all be very motivated to make sure that the ways they slice the pie are somewhat fair. None of them is going to want to divide it up unfairly with the hope that their own tribe will get the better share. If they do, the lot might fall against them.

But in any case, Joshua gives them room to be creative. I was many times amazed at the new and clever ways that our kids would manage tasks that were given to them - often doing a better job in less time than what we would have thought possible. Allowing for some creativity and flexibility gives motivation for the tasks.

He gives guard-rails or off-limits instructions (v. 5b-c)

Next, he gives some guard rails or off-limits instructions on how they are to survey things. They can't dip into any of the bordering states that have already been given their property by God. That should be pretty obvious, but in our socialistic day and age, it bears repeating. Verse 5 ends by saying,

Judah shall remain in their territory on the south, and the house of Joseph shall remain in their territory on the north.

Boundaries are important for all of us. If there are no boundaries to the tasks we have (in other words if the tasks are totally open ended), it is easy to get discouraged. Boundaries means there will be an end to the task that has just been given. But it also means that there are ethical considerations that they must be kept in mind. There can be no stealing of territory from what God has already parceled out. So there were both ethical and practical boundaries. And our children need boundaries that limit the creativity. But creativity is still important.

Write down what has been done (v. 6a; cf. also vv. 8,9)

Verse 6 gives the next step. Joshua says, "You shall therefore survey the land in seven parts." If you look in the margin you will see that it literally says, "You shall describe in writing the land in seven parts." And three times in today's passage there is a command to write things down (verses 6,8,9). Written accomplishments are very helpful for accountability. It precludes misunderstandings. It promotes organization. It helps us to measure progress. Those are all important parts of motivation. Now, that point is so obvious that I won't spend any more time on that.

Insist on accountability and acknowledge work well done (v. 6b)

Next, Joshua insists on accountability, but also promises that he will acknowledge work well done. Verse 6 goes on to say, "and bring the survey here to me..." Many times children who don't follow through on their tasks don't follow through because this step of accountability and reporting is missing. And you might think of accountability as being a negative thing, but it doesn't have to be. Parents can use praise for a job well done or instructions on how to finish the job better in the future, and both of those can be ways to motivate rather than demotivate. I'm sure reporting back to Joshua was a very positive and encouraging experience. After all, Joshua himself had been in this position a few years earlier.

Do the task as unto the Lord (v. 6c)

The last thing I see under this point of breaking the tasks down to achievable steps was that Joshua made sure that their focus was on doing this task as unto the Lord. Throughout the passage there is a God-centered focus on all of the planning and implementation. Verse 6 goes on to say, "and bring the survey here to me, that I may cast lots for you here before the LORD our God." We have already seen in the past that the casting of lots left the apportionment of the land in God's hands so that no tribe would be able to complain against another tribe. But this also meant that they were ultimately doing the survey for the Lord and submitting to His sovereignty. There was a God-centered focus. And teaching our children to do absolutely every chore as if it was a gift of service to God is a critical component for giving meaning to their boring tasks. We are not training our children to have a slave mentality. No! We are training them to develop maturity in Christ. And teaching them about God's sovereign lordship over them helps to remove ideas of self-serving rights. Ultimately all we do must be done for God - yes, even cleaning toilets. Clean this toilet well enough that you would be pleased if Jesus was on earth and had to use it.

So in this section Joshua sent them, got them going, let them creatively figure out how to do the survey, and then called them to report back to him once their task was done so that Joshua could see it. I think this is great advice for parents with children, for business owners, for political leaders, and really, for everyone. In other words, he didn't micromanage them. He empowered them with the authority to back up their responsibility. And it is important that responsibility and authority go hand in hand. And that should have actually been a separate point in your outline. Sorry about that.

Don't allow division of labor to discourage (v. 7a)

I do see another principle in verse 7 - the importance of division of labor. Sometimes children might think that it isn't fair that they have to clean the toilet this week while another sister or brother gets to do yard work. But when the importance of division of labor is explained, it can be very motivating. Verse 7 explains why the Levites had a different task - a completely different task. The first part of the verse says,

But the Levites have no part among you, for the priesthood of the LORD is their inheritance.

It's not like their work was easier than everyone else's. It wasn't. In some ways it was more stressful work since it dealt with all the counseling issues, conflict resolution, and other stressful issues that the rest of the Israelites brought to them to solve. Some people envy the job of pastors, who are today's equivalent to the Levites. But there is a lot of stress and other not-so-nice parts that go with our job. Gary or I can tell you about that. But the bottom line is that God has gifted different people in different ways, and division of labor is a blessing. Teach your children to value division of labor as being a very important part of free market economics.

He pointed them to how others had already overcome even greater obstacles by God's grace (v. 7b)

Next, Joshua pointed them to the fact that others had already overcome even greater obstacles than they were going to face, and had done so by God's grace. Some of the worst of the battles had already been fought. Everyone has some obstacles that they are going to face - everyone. Verse 7 goes on to say,

And Gad, Reuben, and half the tribe of Manasseh have received their inheritance beyond the Jordan on the east, which Moses the servant of the LORD gave them.”

David Firth's commentary says on that clause, referring to the fact that both the east of Jordan tribes and Judah and Joseph had received their allocations, Joshua subtly reminds them that these promises can indeed be received.5

So hopefully you can see that all of verses 4-7 were part of a motivational speech. I'm sure if you meditate on these verses long enough you will see even more applications that the Lord is making for you and your family.

Move them from vision to action (vv. 8-10)

But now in verses 8-10 Joshua moves them from vision to action. I won't spend a lot of time on this section, but it is important too.

Have them take initial action (v. 8a)

First, Joshua had them take some initial actions. Verse 8 says, "Then the men arose to go away..." There is no substitute for obedient action. Christianity is not just a philosophy. Yes, it is a game plan, but it is more than a game plan. It involves playing the game. The book of James is not happy with people who love studying the Bible but who don't obey or implement it. So these men get ready to go.

But why do I see that even this is a motivator? I think it was a motivator in part because even doing these tasks helped them to begin to regain a vision of what God had in store for them. Just like Joshua and Caleb were jazzed up with what God had in store for Israel when they went out with the other ten spies 40 years earlier, these men could gain tremendous motivation when they saw what a good land it was that they were about to inherit. Obedience to what God has already told us to do motivates us to enter more fully into His plans for our lives.

Give clear instructions (v. 8b)

Next, Joshua gave clear instructions. Verse 8 says, "And Joshua charged those who went to survey the land, saying, 'Go, walk through the land, survey it...'" that was their job - to go, to walk through the land, (and as the Hebrew is quite clear) to write down the results of what they had surveyed. It was basically making detailed maps of the remaining portion of Canaan. There was no ambiguity in Joshua's instructions.

And I think you can immediately see many possible applications. I'll just make one. It can be discouraging to a child to think that he or she has done a good job, but because of lack of clear instruction to find out that the parent is unhappy about what was left out. Clear instructions helps to avoid that.

Have a means of accountability (v. 8c)

Of course, the next phrase shows that there was a means of accountability - "and come back to me..." They were going to be reporting back everything that they had done at the end of their trip. Why is accountability a motivator? It's a motivator for at least five reasons that I can think of.

  1. First, it shows that Joshua cared. He cared about what they were doing. He saw it as an important task. He wanted to know the results. Wanting to know shows that he cared.
  2. Second, it guaranteed that Joshua would notice their hard work.
  3. Third, it gives a deadline.
  4. Fourth, it gives feedback.
  5. Fifth, it allows for praise for a job well done.

Don't think of accountability as only negative. It can be a very good motivator for those who are demotivated or find it difficult to be self-motivated. Some people have a hard time being self-motivated. So that phrase of coming back to him gives yet another motivation.

Give them hope of what the end result will be (v. 8c)

The next motivator is that Joshua gave them hope of what the end result will be. He says, "that I may cast lots for you here before the LORD in Shiloh..." Once they had followed through on their task, Joshua was going to follow through on his part, and God Himself would then distribute the rest of the land. But the rest of the land would not be distributed until the tasks were finished. So that gives hope. It gives them something to anticipate and look forward to.

Have them document their actions when they report back (v. 9)

The last thing that he did to move them from vision to action was to insist that they document their actions. Lazy people don't like to do that, but he insisted that they document it. Of course, we have covered this already, but verse 9 shows that they followed through. It says,

So the men went, passed through the land, and wrote the survey in a book in seven parts by cities; and they came to Joshua at the camp in Shiloh.

It's helpful for even young children to learn to do this - even if it just means checking a box. It will make them much more organized about their tasks if they have to document and report back on what they have done. It will prepare them for business. It will prepare them for marriage. And it will motivate them to do a better job since someone will be looking at all the details of their work.

Follow through on the promised goal (v. 10)

Finally, Joshua followed through on the promised goal. Verse 10 says,

Then Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh before the LORD, and there Joshua divided the land to the children of Israel according to their divisions.

When parents consistently follow through on what they have promised to do, it helps to set patterns of expectations in the children - that they too need to follow through. And of course, Joshua (40 years before this date) had done exactly what he is now asking them to do. He is old now and won't be able to do that kind of difficult work, but he never asked people to do what he himself had previously been unwilling to do. Don't ask people to clean toilets if you have been unwilling to do so. It doesn't bother me to have to clean toilets at the office from time to time. Every task has significance before the Lord. In any case, here Joshua models following through on what he has promised just as he expects his followers to follow through on their promises.

Concluding summary of applications

So brothers and sisters, if you have children who are unmotivated to do their responsibilities, I hope you will meditate more deeply on how Joshua organized and motivated these leaders of Israel, and through that fairness, motivated the citizens themselves.

In conclusion, let me reiterate very quickly twenty of the applications I have already made.

  1. First, he set before them examples of the power of God. Without God's power within us we can never be consistent in living out our Christianity.
  2. Second, he knew what it meant to meet with God and experience the reality of God's power in his life. You can only pass on to your children what you yourself have inwardly appropriated.
  3. Third, he familiarized people with what God had already done in the lives of others in the past. Having a story time with your children where you read God-centered histories and biographies can be tremendously motivating to your children to live lives that are sold out to the Lord. My mom and my dad did this to me. I still have memories of wanting to be like some of the heroes in the stories my mother would read to us. Her story-time was a tremendous motivator.
  4. Fourth, Joshua was not satisfied with jobs half-done. He kept pressing into the whole conquest of the land that God had commanded. And we too must not be satisfied with half-baked aspirations in our children. After all, if your children are filled with the Holy Spirit, they can achieve things that other children cannot. Inspire them to appropriate God's power for their daily tasks. And yes, you can ask God for His grace and power to transform anything that you do.
  5. Fifth, be clear on God's vision for your life.
  6. Sixth, break down the tasks that you give to those that you supervise into achievable and measureable tasks and help them to learn to do the same thing for themselves and for others. It's a part of being an organized person. Time management and organization is one of the things we taught our children.
  7. Seventh, if you are a leader, you will obviously do a lot of work, but leaders are not called to do all the work of the ministry. That’s a Roman Catholic idea. Leaders are called to stir up others and to involve others in the work of God as well.
  8. Next, don't micromanage. You will be surprised at the cool things others will come up with if you don't micromanage them.
  9. Ninth, help your children to at least get started. Sometimes starting an unpleasant task is the biggest hurdle to finishing it.
  10. Tenth, help your children to see the importance of what they are doing in order to get buy-in. This is not just for homework, housework, and other labors related to the family. It is also important that they begin to develop buy-in to other kingdom tasks that will last for time and eternity.
  11. Eleventh, give some room for creativity to those that you lead. So long as their creativity is indeed carrying through on their responsibilities, you may be surprised at how high your children will aspire if they are looking to God Himself for what they should do. Yes, goals should be set, but give room for some individual creativity.
  12. Next, make sure that your children understand the ethical and practical guardrails that God's Word sets forth. It will save them a lot of headache in the future.
  13. Thirteenth, teach your children to write down and document what they have accomplished. If you've got a poor memory like I do, you will find yourself hugely benefiting in the future from the things you have recorded of what God has done in your life. At least I have.
  14. Next, it's important that all of us be accountable, but also teach those that we are over to see the blessing of accountability. It is a blessing indeed. Gary and I are accountable.
  15. Fifteenth, acknowledge a job well done. Don't take the efforts of your children for granted. God is developing them, and when you see God's grace at work in your children, point it out to them. That itself will be a tremendous encouragement. Tell them, “I see God at work in your life.”
  16. Sixteenth, do all your tasks as unto the Lord. What did Paul say? "Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." (1 Cor. 10:31) If your children do that when they weed the yard, their weeding will look different.
  17. Next, don't allow the fact that God has given others different gifts, different financial apportionments, or different privileges to discourage you. Teach your children that godliness with contentment is great gain. Learning contentment with God's apportionments brings incredible blessings. Discontentment removes joy. It always does.
  18. Eighteenth, when people get discouraged, use stories from biographies and histories of the past to encourage them. There are bound to be people who have experienced what you are going through (and more) and have done it by God's grace and to His glory in a way that is worth emulating.
  19. Next, always move your children from theory to action. Otherwise it will be easy for for them to become satisfied with sterile knowledge.
  20. And lastly, when you give responsibilities to your children, make sure that you give them clear instructions, that they appreciate accountability and reporting in on their chores, that you set before them a vision of how wonderful a job well done looks in God's sight and in your sight (this is where praise can come in handy), teach your children to document their actions, and finally, always follow through on your promised goals. (I guess that was more than one point, wasn't it?)

There are actually other lessons that could have been taught from this passage, but those are the twenty or so lessons that the Lord laid on my heart for this week. God bless you. Let's pray.

I charge you to keep on keeping on and to encourage others to stay motivated in serving the Lord.




  3. Max Lucado, God Came near: Chronicles of the Christ (Portland, OR: Multnomah Press, 1987), 190–191.

  4. Max Lucado, God Came near: Chronicles of the Christ (Portland, OR: Multnomah Press, 1987), 190–191.

  5. David G. Firth, The Message of Joshua, ed. Alec Motyer and Derek Tidball, The Bible Speaks Today (Nottingham, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 2015), 176.

Motivating the Demotivated is part of the Joshua series published on March 10, 2024

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