The difference between motivation and manipulation in biblical leadership is a very extensive subject because the scripture itself uses a great many different major leaders to draw leadership practices from. For example if doing a study on leadership strictly from the scripture, then a person could choose any of the patriarchs, any of the three major prophets, a variety of kings, any of the twelve minor prophets, Jesus Christ, and even many of the apostles to draw from. One would see that the one thing that held all biblical leadership together to be a motivational force in the world instead of a manipulative force is that every biblical leader sought God’s will to be done on earth, and every biblical leader also utilized moral and ethical measures by either God’s standard or by standards common to the people in order that a path for others would be set in place.
Scripture makes clear that the leaders in the Bible had been held accountable by God even to the extent that he destroyed the entire world by the flood, and so anything less than willing God’s will and promoting a path of righteousness for doing God’s will would transgress God’s purposes and would be sin. Although the scripture records leaders in the Bible that did not will God’s will and did not promote a path or righteousness, this author will not be using the term, “biblical leader” for those leaders. Satan for example even though he is described in the Bible would not be considered a biblical leader nor would Israel’s oppressive kings be considered biblical leaders.
The following paper will begin with a discussion on leadership to define and describe what a leader does, the paper will continue with a discourse on manipulation to show how people can fall short of true leadership, and it will continue with a discourse on motivation to show the proper methodology behind leadership. The following paper is thus mainly intended to give a view into the simple difference between motivation and manipulation, but it is not intended to act as a comprehensive guide or study on the subject. Overall, biblical leadership clearly is always based upon motivating individuals (sometimes with deep interaction) and it is never based upon manipulating people into doing things that they would regret doing or that they would rather not do.
According to Kenneth Gangel, New Testament leadership means the serving of other people in a form of meekness. Thomas Smith remarks about pastoral leadership that the faithful pastor will not do his work for money but instead Smith argues that the faithful minister will do his work out of love. One could thus reason that pastoral leadership of a church thus involves acting out of a motivation to love others, and when such a motivation is acted upon, a church is able to have proper leadership.
1 Corinthians 9:14-16 makes clear that people who preach the gospel are to receive their living from the gospel according to God’s command, but the scripture also makes clear that Paul was willing to take any kind of mistreatment rather than to hinder the gospel. The basic leadership principle that Paul promotes is that of ensuring that the work of the gospel is promoted regardless of his provisions not being met. If the leadership of Paul was used as a model for describing all good leadership, then a person could conclude that leaders should always be willing to sacrifice themselves and their livelihood for those that they serve.
A struggle between people that think in the moment and those that think in terms of ideals is described by Henry Powers, and he reflects by saying that such people have a hatred for each other and that they are only useful when they work together. One could thus see that in leadership such struggles emerge between people as a result of their uniqueness, and the role of leadership thus becomes the duty of facilitating progress between people. One could thus see that sometimes the greatest service that a leader could provide is the service of organizing people to work together such that they are able to commonly benefit from utilizing their talents and various approaches to doing things.
Howard Marshall describes the term hypocrite to be someone that deliberately pretends to be good and virtuous when they are in fact something very much different as they carry out their work in the form of an evil plan. Thus if people who are appointed as leaders will present themselves as doing good by acting out of love when they are really devising an evil plan, then such people could be described as not being real leaders. To use the motivation of money or material gain as the bases for leadership and to next hide that motivation under the mask of being a good person can be understood to be the bases of a person who uses others for his or her own benefit.
In contrast Diane Langberg describes the crucial importance of being able to bear burdens for other people without being crushed by those very burdens. To this end Matthew 23:4 shows Jesus Christ describing how not to be when he describes the teachers of the law and Pharisees as being people who put heavy burdens on others without being willing to lift a finger to help. Instead of utilizing people simply to arrive at a desired end, good leadership will bear the burdens of the people in order to ensure that they grow toward their God given optimum for their own sake. One can reason that the person who leads in the sharing of burdens is a true leader and is practicing sound leadership principles by doing just the opposite of what Jesus Christ in Matthew 23:4 opposes.
David Jackman describes a situation such that in his home country churches are either closed most of the time or have in some places less than one percent of the population going to church, and Jackman thus uses the slogan, “Evangelize or fossilize” to describe the situation at hand. Given such a climate of dwindling numbers, church leaders who seek to stay established (or who are establishing themselves) may be inclined to utilize tactics that do not comply with the conventional norms or the understood morals of the people. Caleb Henry describes a case in 1505 when a tyrant killed his parents, committed incest, and rallied troops only to surrender to a rather defenseless Pope, and Henry notes that the classic author Machiavelli thus made clear his conviction that the tyrant should have used his force to protect his reputation instead of yielding to the otherwise defenseless Pope. Given the imprint that Machiavelli has made upon his European audience, some church leaders may feel inclined to use Machiavellian reasoning to attempt to justify utilizing any means necessary (even if it is immoral) in order to reverse a otherwise bad situation at hand.
David Doran argues the case that Job arrived at the conclusion that God can do all things and that God’s work cannot be thwarted, and by saying such Doran made the case that God’s will always rules out in the end as a result of his sovereignty. One could thus reason that if God’s will always rules out in the end that to rebel against God’s will would be to lose in the end, and one could further reason that to lead others into rebellion would also be to lose in the end. Thus as a result of the principle of the sovereignty of God, one can conclude that manipulation for the purpose of getting others to work against God’s work makes for a very unsuccessful venture in the long run.
David Ciocchi describes how some who argued from the medieval monastic disposition would make the case that if God has given any two truths without connecting the two that it is a sort of forbidden intellectual pride to connect those truths through the use of theological reason, and thus the idea was that connecting such truths actually offended God. One could surmise and Ciocchi eludes that the reason why such a connection would be forbidden between two different parts of scripture is because of the great opportunity for manipulation by those who are more cunning.
Jennie Dugan summarizes many of the problems that are central to the subject of manipulation as she describes how the Pharisees thrived upon authority, power, and control while Christ himself sidestepped such things by showing a consistent attitude toward problem orientation instead of building a power base from current situations. To restate Dugan’s point, people who try to lead through manipulation like the Pharisees will often utilize social situations as opportunities to use their power, control, and authority to obtain gains for themselves at the expense of others. One could go so far as to reason that Christ (being God in the flesh) did not show his full glory to people simply because he wanted to demonstrate just exactly how manipulative the Pharisees had been in contrast to him.
To promote biblical leadership without manipulation would overall mean 1) to avoid doing things that are immoral in hope of the ends justifying the means, 2) to go along with God’s purpose instead of leading against it, 3) to avoid making summarizations of scripture for the purpose of controlling people’s behaviors, and 4) avoid using a position of power as the main means of getting people to do things. Based upon the evidence one could argue that biblical leadership works best through motivation to encourage and to promote the things that serve others best for God’s will to be done. Overall, although manipulation may appear to be the best method for getting a job done and for keeping people in unity and in order, it is not the biblical method of leadership that Christianity should be known for.
Ted Hildebrandt describes the need for value-based motivational systems that promote faith development as he draws extensively from the methodology of the Proverbs to instruct people in matters of how to live. Hildebrandt makes clear that Israel’s teachers had been concerned greatly with the heart’s motives. After having seen the way that Proverbs will place values upon actions for moral instruction and faith development, one can conclude that a type of motivation apart from manipulation exists such that it gives moral direction.
Proverbs 19:27 for example states, “Stop listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.” The motivation that is used is very observation based and self evident, and that motivation is based upon the warning that to stop listening means to stray from knowledge. The motivation shows that the teacher makes clear how a godly pursuit had a godly end and without that pursuit ungodliness would exist. If manipulation had occurred, then the option of not listening would be removed to leave the voice in a position of near complete control over the subject.
Timothy Gombis describes Christ’s leadership by showing how he conquered death through the cross, gained the right to build the new temple made of the people of the church, and freed believers from the grip of death and sin. What can be drawn from such merits is that Christ like the sages who wrote Proverbs have acquired enough merit by what they have done in order to merit being listened to and obeyed because their works have proven themselves worthy of receiving obedience. In such a case the monumental value of past works can build a foundation for future motivation in order to ensure that key moments in history have changes that can never be undone.
E Ray Clendenen explored the methodology behind the writings of the twelve minor prophets in the ancient Hebrew scripture, and what the author found is that past actions had been written in such a way as to show a incentive and deterrent, present circumstances had also had incentives and deterrents written into the interpretation, and the same could be said of future actions as well. The point that could be drawn from such examples as the twelve minor prophets is that the prophets had a way of using all of history as a tool to show people what God wanted, and a lot of discernment would have been needed to determine if people had been manipulated or had been given motivation by God in order to change. The big question that people should be asking to distinguish between people that elaborate upon God’s will as opposed to people that fabricate things is if such people can substantiate their claims from scripture, and even if such people can substantiate their claims from scripture, the people that do not practice the scripture will be the ones who would be most easily deceived.
When evaluating motivation from a superficial perspective one can find that motivation differs from manipulation such that the motives of the motivator are good motives that seek a godly end, but the problem is that the process that the motivator presents has to also be a godly process. For example one could not be expected to be motivated to end world hunger by supporting abortion, and one also could not be expected to work or not eat if the only form of work available is prostitution. One however could argue that a big difference between motivation and manipulation is that manipulation will potentially give evil things that a person must do to arrive at ends that are envisioned as good and godly ends. The way that motivation and manipulation differ is that motivation will not use a series of evil things to get to an envisioned good end but instead it will plan for uprightness from beginning to end without the need to secure personal gains for the presenter as the main objective.
In conclusion one could see that a biblical leader is one who leads out of love and self sacrifice. Such a person would get people to work together by integrating people’s good qualities together to make something better than what would be possible if people worked alone. Overall, such a person would be able to bear burdens for others such that he or she becomes a key person to look toward in order to receive help.
Manipulation however often involves sacrificing moral integrity for a greater goal, and it can even involve leading rebellion against God’s will. In manipulation theology can be used to manufacture truth such that people are not given the Word of God but instead are directed by a message that would appear to have been derived from the Word of God when some key and critical differences may exist between the two. In manipulation the power and authority of the individual will often be used to get people to do what the manipulator wants done.
Motivation is much different from manipulation in that it is structured upon godly values. Motivation from a biblical perspective will use a godly process combined with a godly end such that godliness is known the entire way through. In motivation merits have a way of qualifying the motivator such that the motivator can prove his trustworthiness as a leader in order to prevent misconduct. Many of the prophets used motivation over time in a reflective way to show past, present, and future in order to align the people’s behavior with God’s will, and in such a way a case can be made for why particular measures of motivation are necessary.
Biblical leadership to motivate one individual to perform a particular task or to live a particular way requires that the leader should have a very integral part in the life of the person being motivated in order that the love of God could be expressed through caring for the individual. The motivation methods themselves must be upright and good from the process used to the concluding vision. Manipulation of the individual to obtain a desired end is forbidden under biblical leadership because it incorporates the use of evil into the doing of good works.
Although the scope of the paper is not sufficient to cover all the leadership principles employed by the scripture, additional research could be performed by simply investigating all of the major leaders in the Bible according to the vision that they portray and the process that they employ for arriving at that vision. One could categorize and dissect the visions and the processes according to those that are manipulative and those that are motivation based. More complex patterns will likely emerge as the biblical characters are compared and contrasted according to their visions and methods.
Ciocchi, David. “Suspending the Debate About Divine Sovereignty and Human Freedom.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 51:3 (September 2008).
Clendenen, Ray E. “Textlinguistics and Prophecy in the Book of the Twelve.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 46:3 (September 2003).
Doran, David. “God’s Sovereignty and the Spread of the Gospel.” Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal 09:1 (Fall 2004).
Dugan, Jennie. “Jesus and Trust.” Priscilla Papers 21:4 (Autumn 2007).
Gangel, Kenneth. Team Leadership in Christian Ministry: Using Multiple Gifts to Build a Unified Vision. Chicago, Illinois: Moody Publications, 1997.
Gombis, Timothy. “A Radically New Humanity: the Function of the Haustafel in Ephesians.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 48:2 (June 2005).
Henry, Caleb. “Joab: a Biblical Critique of Machiavellian Tactics.” Westminster Theological Journal 69:2 (Fall 2007).
Hildebrandt, Ted. “Motivation and Antithetic Parallelism in Proverbs 10-15.” Journal of Evangelical Theological Society 35:4 (December 1992).
Jackman, David. “Teaching that Connects, Part 2: Internal Transformation: Pastoral Patterns and Practices.” Trinity Journal 29:2 (Fall 2008).
Langberg, Diane. “The Art of Bearing Burdens.” Reformation of Revival 13:2 (Spring 2004).
Marshall, Howard. “Who is a Hypocrite?” Bibliotheca Sacra 159:634 (April 2002).
Powers, Henry. “An Ancient Story of Politics and Reform.” Bibliotheca Sacra 062:247 (July 1905)
Smith, Thomas. “Classical Pastoral Practice for Today: For Love.” Reformation Revival 12:2 (Spring 2003).
 Kenneth Gangel, Team Leadership in Christian Ministry: Using Multiple Gifts to Build a Unified Vision (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Publications, 1997), 62-63.
 Thomas Smith, “Classical Pastoral Practice for Today: For Love,” Reformation Revival 12:2 (Spring 2003): 156.
 Henry Powers, “An Ancient Story of Politics and Reform,” Bibliotheca Sacra 062:247 (July 1905): 425-426.
 Howard Marshall, “Who is a Hypocrite?” Bibliotheca Sacra 159:634 (April 2002): 133.
Diane Langberg, “The Art of Bearing Burdens,” Reformation of Revival 13:2 (Spring 2004): 58.
 David Jackman, “Teaching that Connects, Part 2: Internal Transformation: Pastoral Patterns and Practices,” Trinity Journal 29:2 (Fall 2008): 190.
 Henry, Caleb, “Joab: a Biblical Critique of Machiavellian Tactics,” Westminster Theological Journal 69:2 (Fall 2007): 328.
 David, Doran, “God’s Sovereignty and the Spread of the Gospel,” Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal 09:1 (Fall 2004): 186-187.
 David Ciocchi, “Suspending the Debate About Divine Sovereignty and Human Freedom,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 51:3 (September 2008): 575.
 Note Ibid, 575-576
 Jennie Dugan, “Jesus and Trust,” Priscilla Papers 21:4 (Autumn 2007): 23.
 Ted Hildebrandt, “Motivation and Antithetic Parallelism in Proverbs 10-15,” Journal of Evangelical Theological Society 35:4 (December 1992): 444.
 Timothy Gombis, “A Radically New Humanity: the Function of the Haustafel in Ephesians,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 48:2 (June 2005): 320.
 E Ray Clendenen, “Textlinguistics and Prophecy in the Book of the Twelve,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 46:3 (September 2003): 390.