Growth & Self-Esteem

What's Motivation? Meaning, Types, and Motivational Scriptures

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6
min
Date Published:
July 8, 2021

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Summary

Motivation is a very subjective thing. 

For example, many people are motivated to provide for their families, make someone close to them proud, or achieve a difficult goal.

The Bible teaches us that we shouldn't seek approval based on our own merits or be motivated by selfish gain. Rather, our motivation should be a desire to obey and honor God. 

But when motivation seems to be beyond our grasp, what can a person do?

In this article, we'll discuss what motivation is and what types of motivation there are, as well as share some motivational scriptures. 

Different types of motivation

The definition of motivation comes in two parts: “The reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way” and “The general desire or willingness of someone to do something.” 

The culture you grew up in and your personal family values are also powerful motivators for future actions. For example, a person from a family that places a high value on giving to charity is more inclined to choose a career that helps the less fortunate. 

You might also strive to receive a promotion if your work environment consists of many people who highly value professional success. 

Regardless of where it comes from, motivation is the driving force behind the accomplishment of a goal, and without it, achieving any goal becomes almost impossible.

 a person running up a set of stairs

So, goal setting is entirely a matter of personal circumstances. 

There are only two types of motivation concerning human behavior: intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. 

Intrinsic motivation

In its simplest definition, intrinsic motivation is defined as the factors that motivate a person in order to receive internal rewards. Essentially, this refers to any activity that's based on personal satisfaction or conducted for the sheer enjoyment of it without expecting external rewards.

The subcategories of intrinsic motivation are:

  1. Competence motivation
  2. Creative motivation
  3. Achievement motivation
  4. Attitude motivation
  5. Affiliate motivation
  6. Physiological motivation

Extrinsic motivation

Extrinsic motivation refers to all the things that serve as an external drive. It is divided into two categories: compensation and punishment.

For compensation, one can receive a salary bonus, material goods, or an appraisal. Punishment can include fines, blame, judgment, and more. 

These are then further divided into three subcategories:

  1. Reward-based motivation
  2. Power-based motivation
  3. Fear-based motivation

People usually mistake extrinsic motivation as something negative, but it carries some positive qualities as well. 

Consider how certain laws motivate people to not commit crimes, or heavy fines make people less likely to park in a parking spot reserved for handicapped people.

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What is the meaning of self-motivation?

Most theories of motivation, and especially self-motivation, stem from Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which deals with both psychological needs and physiological needs. 

As human beings, there are a few things we need in order to achieve Maslow’s idea of self-actualization. There are basic needs such as food, water, and safety, as well as psychological needs such as love, belongingness, and strong self-esteem. 

Most of the basic needs can be easily accomplished. However, some psychological needs can only be met through strong motivation. 


Motivating oneself is essential when pursuing big goals. Change requires persistence over time, and many of us have trouble with a lack of motivation.

However, many of our most precious goals take time to achieve. 

For a life change to happen, discipline and hard work are necessary. Having difficulty staying motivated when you don't get the results you're expecting or when nothing goes as planned is a natural response. 

To maintain motivation, you must examine what first prompted your need for change. When you know why you do what you do, staying focused on your work and achieving your dreams will be easier.

The subconscious can conceal motives in plain sight, telling us deep down that something needs to be changed. Desires can emerge instantly, or they can evolve because of self-discovery. The important thing is to be aware of them in order to achieve self-actualization. 

When you recognize the motivation behind your goals, staying motivated will become easier. 

It's important to develop self-awareness and to keep on track toward the goals that truly matter to you by understanding your motivations and their sources.

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Bible verses about motivation

The Bible is an amazing source of motivation, encouragement, and inspiration. Whether we need the motivation to start a new job or face a difficult task, Bible quotes can motivate us when we feel like giving up. 

Having a deep understanding of God's love and power, we can be motivated to live righteously and courageously. 

Let’s look at four Bible verses that can help motivate you.

Isaiah 40:28-31

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He doesn't faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might, he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted, but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

Galatians 6:7-8

“Do not be deceived: God isn't mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will, from the Spirit, reap eternal life.”

Proverbs 3:1-6

“My son, don't forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they'll add to you. Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. So you'll find favor and good success in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and don't lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge him, and he'll make straight your paths.”

Hebrews 12:1-2

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that's set before us. Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”


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We are what we repeatedly do

Often we find ourselves in motivational slumps in which we have to battle our way out. 

Nevertheless, nothing motivates the mind as much as the right attitude. Although you can't choose or control your circumstances, you can choose your attitude towards them to achieve a sense of well-being.

Reading motivational quotes from the Bible can help if you're feeling overwhelmed. 

The reminder will strengthen your faith that God will never abandon you. In each task He gives you, He'll provide you with the confidence and motivation to succeed. In case of failure, God will always be there to catch you.

For more on motivation, download the pray.com app in the iOS App Store or Google Play.

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