Vince Lombardi is considered one of the greatest motivators in football history. As a famous coach, he knew that there were external factors and internal factors that motivate people and players. He often used positive and negative reinforcement with his team. He could be harsh and offensive and would sometimes get up in a player’s face, but he could also be compassionate and caring for the lives of his men. All in all, he knew deep down that the key to motivation was in a person’s heart.

  • “I believe it is essential to understand that battles are won primarily in the hearts of men. Men respond to leadership in a most remarkable way. Once you have won their hearts, they will follow you anywhere.” (1) (emphasis added)

  Leading well begins with the right motivations and having the right heart. When a leader’s heart and motives are in the right place, good things tend to happen. However, when a leader’s motives are suspect and his or her heart is in the wrong place, poor leadership emerges, people get hurt, and bad things are on the horizon.

  If a friend or someone important asked you to take a leadership role, would you do it? It might depend on the person, the position, the pay, or the time commitment, but most of us would probably give it some serious consideration. What if God was the one inviting you to lead? Would you accept? If you are like me, you would probably have lots of questions before making a decision. Is God’s calling enough to motivate you to action? It was for a young shepherd named David.


  The Bible is full of good and bad leaders, corrupt kings and righteous servants, leaders with pure motives and ones with dark agendas. David was one of the good ones. Most of the time, David was an honorable leader and man after the heart of God.

  David was called to lead at a young age, most likely as a teenager. He was not the oldest, fastest, or strongest, but he was chosen over his older brothers to be a leader. While he was tending the sheep God called him and had him anointed to become the future king of Israel. God saw potential in him and knew he had the right heart to eventually lead His people.

  • Then Samuel asked, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” Jesse replied. “But he’s out in the fields watching the sheep and goats.” “Send for him at once,” Samuel said. “We will not sit down to eat until he arrives.” So Jesse sent for him. He was dark and handsome, with beautiful eyes. And the LORD said, “This is the one; anoint him.” So as David stood there among his brothers, Samuel took the flask of olive oil he had brought and anointed David with the oil. And the Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon David from that day on…. (1 Sam.16:11-13, NLT)

Motivations for leading vary widely from personal gain to helping others. Usually, our motivations to lead follow our passions. How about you?

What motivates you to lead?


Posted: June 2023 • Author: Larry Ely

Excerpt: “Chapter 2- Change in Motivation: Why Lead?” from Leadership and Faith: The Art of Leading Well.

© Larry Ely & Daniel Ely. All rights reserved.

[1] Vince Lombardi Jr, What It Takes to Be #1: Vince Lombardi on Leadership (New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2001), 132.