Sunday, November 21, 2010


It's been over a week since I promised a little insight on the Dan Pink video that I posted. I thought I would give a little time to folks to watch it and come up with your own thoughts. (Do you really believe that?)

I narrowed in on Pink's view that traditional theories of motivation-- carrot and stick-- aren't as strong as we'd think. To really motivate people to complex and innovative tasks requires autonomy, mastery, and purpose. This works well when we work for people who give us this triad, but I think we can all find these elements in our lives.

Autonomy is the freedom to direct your own actions, to control your own destiny. Most of us think we are in short supply of this. When I think of autonomy, I get a picture of Jesus, sitting in front of Pilate:
 2 “Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate.
   “You have said so,” Jesus replied.
 3 The chief priests accused him of many things. 4 So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.”
 5 But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.   (Mark 15)
Jesus sat on trial in front of the governor of Judea.  Pilate didn't seem too interested in this "Jesus" case and I think he was just looking for a reason to dismiss it.  Jesus found himself in a position in which most of us would be compelled to provide a defense, and then reframe it when it didn't work.  This is true autonomy, to recognize that nothing of this world demands a response in the face of God's kingdom.

When I think of autonomy, I think of the Apostle Paul writing from jail urging people to bear patiently with one another, addressing his audience with Grace and Peace.  He writes some of the most encouraging words of hopes while suffering unto death in chains.  That is autonomy, the ability to live the freedom of the Kingdom even in the face of imprisonment in this world.

The ways of the world take our autonomy away-- we are bound to acquire more, driven to the next best thing, forced into retaliation, backed into deception, oppressed into misery, and pushed into anger.  We only have one ultimate source of accountability and that is to our God.  Jesus promised abundant life, and this is how we take it, by claiming the autonomy and freedom in this world that comes from giving it away for the sake of the next.

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