Signposts: Daily Devotions

Tuesday, May 27

He armed each of them not so much with confidence in shields and spears as with the inspiration of brave words, and he cheered them all by relating a dream, a sort of vision, which was worthy of belief.
—2 Maccabees 15:11

The art of motivating people is big business these days. In fact, alone has more than 30,000 titles that promise either to give us the oomph we need in order to reach our goals or to teach us how to inspire others to do the same. Throw in the countless workshops, courses, and tapes that promise similar results, and you have a multi-million dollar industry, a giant leap from the days of Dale Carnegie’s 1937 classic How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Granted, successful rhetoric—and that’s what we’re talking about here, the ability to communicate effectively—is in great part a skill that can be taught and learned. Vision, on the other hand, is a gift, and we share it not by appealing to a people’s self-interest, but by calling forth the hope that lives in them.

Those who truly inspire us—that is, those who fill us with life—are individuals who have glimpsed what God knows we can be. They motivate by using not the language of hate and fear, but the language of community and love.  Naïve as it may sound, given the rancor of our time, we still long to be inspired, to be drawn in a direction that is worthy of our best.



O God, let me not be misled by the language of hate and fear, but inspire me with the vision of a people whose hearts are resting in you.

The Signposts for May are written by Susan Hanson and originally appeared on in September 2004.