Category Archives: Motivation

Creating the Best Learning Environment in Your Classroom

OD Workshop - CBAT Timeline 2 - SmallHere are some tips on how to create the best learning environment in an adult learning engagement.

Rearrange Your Space

Nine times out of ten, when you get to the training venue, there will be something about the arrangement of tables and equipment that won’t be helpful for learning.  Arrive early (with a helper if possible), and rearrange tables, chairs, projectors, screens and other things to make sure that every participant will be able to see, hear and engage.  Make sure there are no obstacles in the way, that everyone can see the screen and facilitator, that your voice will carry to the furthest participant or that you have microphones.  Sit in participant chairs to see what they see.  Make sure they have enough space so that they don’t feel too cramped.

Expect the Unexpected

Things will always go wrong, so prepare for them.  Test all your equipment (especially LCD projectors, microphones and speakers).  Test and cue your videos to the right places.  Get extra batteries for the microphones.  Bring extra markers, and test them all to make sure they write well.  Decide what you will do if lunch is late, if the power goes out, if a senior leader decides to take up some of your time, if your printouts aren’t ready or unreadable.  Always have a Plan B.

Put Someone in Charge

Participants may be uncomfortable in the learning environment but too polite or shy to let you know.  At the beginning of your workshop, ask someone to volunteer to be the person in charge of the environment.  If participants are having trouble hearing or understanding you, they can tell the person in charge, who will let you know.  If they need a break or they need to adjust the air, they can tell the person in charge, who will let you know.  This gives adult learns more control over their environment, which increases their engagement.

Get Feedback Everyday

At least once a day (and more if you can afford the time), make time for participants to give you feedback about the content, the pace, the facilitation and the environment.  There are many ways to do this, but a few that we have found successful are a Rapid Evaluation Form at the end of the day (a one-page questionnaire on the four topics mentioned above) and a flipchart with a +, -, ? at the top (participants write what they like, dislike and have questions about on different sticky notes and post them as they leave).  Make adjustments based on what you learn, and tell your participants what you are doing so that they know their feedback counts.

Move Frequently from Big Group to Small Group

Try to keep your lectures to 10-15 minutes at the most.  Then, let the table groups discuss what they are hearing or do some type of activity with it.  This has multiple benefits.  It makes the most of short attention spans.  It helps those who are behind to catch up with the rest of their table.  It reinforces the learning through repetition and contextualization.  It balances learning for introverts and extroverts.  It surfaces questions that might not have been asked out loud.  It socializes the learning.  (This is the 20% of The Center for Creative Leadership’s (CCL’s) 70-20-10 model.)

Contextualize Your Content

Whenever possible, use local, relevant examples to illustrate your points.  If you don’t know them, ask for a subject matter expert (SME) to provide some before the training.  If you don’t have time to do that, let groups discuss the content and come up with their own local examples.  When we train on concepts that are new and different, it is harder for the learning to transfer from the classroom to the work environment.  Relevant examples help participants see how to apply the learning to their work.

Know Your Audience

Do the research to learn about who will be attending your workshop.  What do they know already?  Who are the experts in the room?  What is their work context?  What significant things are going on for them right now (at least in their work life)?

Only Teach Those Who Need to Know

Are the participants the right people to be attending this training?  If they are not, negotiate with your customer to get the right people in the room.  Participants who don’t participate can ruin the learning for everyone else, because they may be distracted, disinterested and disengaged.  If you have to keep them in your workshop, assign them something to do.  Acknowledge their expertise, and ask them to be table leaders or SME’s.  Let them help you manage the room or pass out materials.  Ask them to help you record meeting notes, parking lot questions or feedback from the others.  Invite them to join you for your facilitator debrief session at the end of the day.  Keep them busy.

1 Comment

Filed under Adult Learning Theory, Facilitation, learning, Motivation, Teaching

Works Test (GAME)

Works TestTime

20 minutes

This game helps participants to understand that not all good works have the same value in God’s eyes.  Good things done with bad or selfish motives are not worth nearly as much as those done for the right reasons.  The game teaches about Paul’s writing about the believers’ judgment (aka “the Bema Judgment”), where our works will be tested.


  • 1 Corinthians 3:11-15



  • Printouts of the file “Works Test – Cards” (You can find this file on the Lesson and Material Downloads page at
  • Scissors
  • Glue or clear tape
  • Prize(s) for winner(s) – Optional
  • Bible


  • Cut out the Works Test cards.  There are three per page, and they each have two sides – a “Motive” side and a “Good Work” side.
  • Fold the cards over so that the “Good Work” shows on one side and the “Motive” shows on the other.
  • Glue or tape the two sides together.
  • When they are dry (if you used glue), turn all the cards so that the “Good Work” side is facing up.
    • Practice the script.


Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):

  • “A teacher named Paul told us about the judgment for believers that will happen when Jesus comes back.”
  • “This judgment is just for rewards; there won’t be any punishments.”  (Have a volunteer read 1 Corinthians 3:11-15.)
  • “The foundation he talks about is Jesus and the Truth that He is our Lord and Savior.”
  • “This foundation is very important.  If you don’t have Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then it won’t matter how many good things you do.  There won’t be any rewards for you when Jesus comes back – only punishments.”
  • “But, if you have Jesus as your foundation, then the good things you do start to earn you treasures in heaven.”
  • “So, Paul is saying in this Scripture that when we do good works, we are building on the foundation of Jesus and the Truth that He is Lord and Savior.”
  • “When we stand before Jesus at the judgment for believers, He will test our works with fire.  Good works done for good reasons (‘gold, silver and costly stones’) will survive the fire and we will be rewarded for them.  But bad works or good works done for the wrong reasons will burn up like wood, hay or straw do when they catch on fire.”
  • “Let’s play a game that teaches us about this.”
  • “To play this game, you need to know that ‘good works’ are things that we do that have good results and that ‘motives’ are the reasons we do the things we do.”  \

Game Play

  • Shuffle the cards thoroughly, and make sure that all the “Good Work” sides are facing up. 
  • Deal the cards so that each person gets 10. 
  • Instruct participants not to turn the cards over but to arrange them in two rows of five in front of them.
  • Beginning with the youngest person in the group, have each person read ONE of their cards “Good Works” out loud and then turn the card over.
  • Have the person read the “Motive” on the other side out loud.
  • If the “Motive” has a picture of a pot of gold, bars of silver or a costly stone, the person gets to keep it.
  • If the “Motive” has a picture of firewood, a bale of hay or a straw broom, the person has to “burn it” by putting it into the center of the group.
  • Go around the group three to five times depending on how much time you have.
  • Then, award points – 3 points for any “Gold” motives, 2 points for any “Silver” motives and 1 point for any “Costly Stone” motives.
  • The person with the most points wins the game.
  • You can then turn over all the other cards if you want to.
  • Award a prize to the winner if you want to.
  • After the game is finished, discuss the Debrief questions below.
  • You can use the Rhyme Time to reinforce the main point of the lesson.


Debriefing Questions


  1. Why do you think your motive is important to God?
  2. What do you think you need to do to earn gold, silver or costly stones in heaven?
  3. What will you do differently now that you know about how to earn treasures in heaven?


Rhyme Time

When my motive is good,

I don’t make straw, hay or wood!


Leave a comment

Filed under Game, Judgment, Motivation

Staff Care (DEVOTION)

The Philistines and the Israelites were at a standstill in their war, with one army on each side of a pass.  Jonathan, King Saul’s son, bravely attacked a Philistine outpost with just his armor bearer and with only one sword between them.  This caused a panic in the Philistine camp, allowing the Israelites to rout their enemy.

Saul, in his desire to completely defeat the Philistines, made a hasty rule that none of his men could eat until evening because he wanted them to continue fighting without taking a break.  Jonathan was the first to eat, and as punishment, his father sentenced him to die.

Read 1 Samuel 14:24-48.  Then answer the questions below.

  1. What do you think about Saul’s leadership?
  2. What do you think his men thought about it?
  3. Can you think of a time when an organization you worked for sacrificed the wellbeing of the staff in order to achieve a goal?  What happened?
  4. Why do you think organizations and leaders sometimes put goals above the wellbeing of their staff?
  5. What are the consequences of this approach?
  6. How can we guard against doing this as an organization?

Leave a comment

Filed under Burnout, Devotion, Jonathan, leadership, Management, Motivation

Burnout (OBJ LESSON)


10-15 minutes

This object lesson teaches that when we try to do ministry in our own power, we may be able to spread light for some time, but we will eventually burn out.  Only by continually renewing our power source (i.e., by allowing ourselves to be filled with the Holy Spirit) can we continue to be strong in ministry over the long term.



  • Youth, Adults



You can choose from the following Scriptures depending on how you want to reinforce your lesson.

  • 2 Samuel 22:29 (“You, Lord, are my lamp; the Lord turns my darkness into light.”)
  • Job 29:3 (“…his lamp shone on my head, and by his light I walked through darkness!”)
  • Psalm 18:28-29 (“You, Lord, keep my lamp burning…”)
  • Proverbs 20:27 (“The human spirit is the lamp of the Lord…”)
  • Matthew 5:14-16 (“You are the light of the world…”)
  • Luke 12:35-48 (“…keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return…”)
  • Ephesians 5:18-20 (“Do not get drunk on wine…instead be filled with the Spirit…”)



  • Two identical lamps – the kind that burn oil and have a wick
  • Matches or a lighter
  • A bottle of oil for the lamps
  • Table to put your lamps on
  • Bible



  • Set up the two, identical lamps on the table at the front of the room.
  • Fill one lamp with oil, but leave the other dry.
  • Try lighting both wicks to make sure they will light quickly during your lesson, then blow them out.  (You will probably need to dip the dry wicks (both of them) into the oil so that they will light quickly.)
  • Place the bottle of oil somewhere nearby but out of sight.
  • Practice the script.



Use the following script and instructions (or modify to suit your needs):

  • “So often, people burn out in ministry.”
  • “They get exhausted meeting the daily needs of the people they serve.”
  • “So, they try harder and work longer.”
  • “They skip meals and go without sleep.”
  • “They sacrifice time with their families and friends.”
  • “They stop spending time with God each day.”
  • “In fact, this is often one of the first things to go on their daily schedule.”
  • “The harder they work, the less effective they become, but the work is so important that they don’t know what to do except double their efforts.”
  • “Everything becomes a crisis, and this further drains their resources until they have absolutely nothing left to give.”
  • “Their bodies or minds or emotions break down (or a combination of these), and they have a collapse where the good work they have been doing comes to a grinding halt because they are no longer able to keep it going.”
  • “Sometimes they will be able to return to their ministry after an extended healing time, but often, they have ruined themselves for the work and have to find something else to do.”
  • “The have killed the goose that laid the golden eggs by trying to get too much out of to too quickly.”
  • “They are like this lamp.” (Point to the lamp with no oil.)

  • “What do you think is wrong with it?” (Acknowledge responses.)

  • “Right! it has no oil.”
  • “What happens to a burning wick when it has no oil?” (Acknowledge responses.)

  • “Exactly! It burns out. The wick itself catches fire, and even though it can provide light for some period of time, it will eventually destroy itself by providing the light.”
  • “What’s different about this other lamp?” (Acknowledge responses.)

  • “Yes, it has oil, and when the lamp has oil, the wick doesn’t burn – the oil does!”
  • “In fact, as long as you keep putting oil in the lamp, the wick will never burn up!”
  • “Amazing, right?”
  • “Here’s the point of the illustration. The oil represents the Holy Spirit (as it so often does in Scripture).”
  • “You are the wick.”
  • “Unless you regularly refill your oil, you will burn yourself out.”
  • “But if you spend time with the Lord everyday and do the things that He tells you to do, your light in your ministry will come from Him and not from you.” (Open the dry lamp, and fill it with oil. Then, replace the wick, and relight it if necessary.)

  • “And His flame will never be exhausted!”
  • “Allow yourself to be filled with God’s Spirit very day, and you will never run out of light.”
  • “And be careful…some ministries and certain times in your ministry will require more of God’s Spirit than others.”
  • “If you are doing a really big work with the Lord, you will need to spend more time with Him each day to get enough of His Spirit.”
  • “The brighter you want His light to shine, the more oil you need in your lamp.”
  • “During those times, pray more, confess more, give thanks more, praise more and work less!”

1 Comment

Filed under Abundance, Annointing, Failure, Hardship, Holy Spirit, Motivation, Object Lesson