The Carrot And The Stick

carrot and stick

Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin? (Romans 2:4)

Read: 1 Chronicles 16:37-18:17, Romans 2:1-24, Psalm 10:16-18, Proverbs 19:8-9


“It is so obvious that you are a teacher.” One of the others around the table said that to ma and, honestly, it left me a bit confused. How so? She explained, “I was right about to yell at one kid for going too slow, but I bit my tongue. The next one to go went much faster and you complimented her for breezing right through her turn. Your carrot is far more effective than my stick.” I hadn’t really thought about it, but she was probably right. There were nine of us playing a game together, four adults(ish) and five kids (as in preteen) and the game was going a bit slower than I would have liked.

I know the carrot works a lot better than the stick in my own life. If someone yells at me, I am just as likely to shut it down and quit as I am to try harder. If someone encourages me I am far more likely to try even harder next time. I guess in that game I was acting out the golden rule. If I want others to be motivated through kindness and encouragement, why not do the same thing to others? What about you, are you more likely to be motivated by the carrot or the stick?

React: Why is it that what something I am encouraged by and something that comes as second nature for me in conversations with others seems to disappear when I am witnessing? If I were to try witnessing to the Samaritan woman at the well, I would not have approached the conversation the same way Jesus did. My approach usually falls into two categories: rebuke, “you’re drawing the water all wrong” or condescension, “Here. Let me show you a much better way to draw water than that.” Even though it is His kindness that leads me to repentance, all too often I find that kindness incredibly difficult to pass on to others? Do you?


Dear God,
I am so grateful that You wooed me, and You continue to lead me closer to You through kindness. All too often, though, this is a fruit of the spirit that I find lacking in my own life. All too often I have not been a good or a kind representation of You to my world. Thank You for reminding me of those times I have gotten it right and help me to live in such a way that others would say, “I can see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God through him is with me.”

17 thoughts on “The Carrot And The Stick

  1. So right on! People thrive under praise and deteriorate under criticism. As someone once said, “How is he going to learn if I don’t tell him what he’s doing wrong? Tell him what he is doing right and watch how fast he learns!”

  2. I do not think it is an either/or issue. Nature and God both use negative consequences as instructors. In my life there are times when the negative “sticks” speak clearly and effectively. I like others am also motivated and drawn forward by positive reward motivation.

    In the elementary school where I worked some teachers held ideals of always using ONLY positive motivators. But usually those ideals broke down in real life practice. I was doing reading groups in one teacher’s class and was giving frowny faces and she instructed me to give only smiley faces. It was a high ideal but I observed her raising her voice or using negative consequences in her class. She was a great teacher and for the most part used a great Mr. Rogers kind voice. I admired her efforts but her ideals did not match reality. I still think that negative consequences are embedded within nature and should be accepted.

  3. I think the enemy tries to thwart any witness we have by causing us to insert as much “flesh” as possible. It can be a real struggle to get “self” out of the way enough to get His Word and Motive out there.

  4. Thanks so much for this most engaging post, reflecting that you are a great teacher. What a great way to learn a such a simple yet profound lesson.

  5. Great post! You are a great teacher. I do better with the carrot. Sticks shut me down. I agree that it is hard to pass that kindness on to others. I want to but so often don’t. The enemy is afoot like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. (paraphrase 1 Peter 5:8)

  6. Great topic. When we are upset with someone, we want to use the stick instead of offering the carrot. We lose sight of what we are trying to achieve because we are stuck on what the other person “deserves.” God tells us to show mercy – the carrot.

  7. Carrots work far better. I hope that someday I’ll learn to follow the Holy Spirit’s carrot instead of blindly following my will and forcing Him to use His 2*4 on my stubborn head!

  8. Reblogged this on ChristianBlessings and commented:
    Unkindness the mark of sin – how often man forgets to acknowledge His Creator who has done all for him?
    God forgive us for forgetting Your kindness. Help us do better for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

  9. Definitely motivated by the carrot. I haven’t had a lot of “carrot” in my life, mostly yelling or put down for not being good enough, which has made me a very insecure person. But with God’s help, I have come a long way! I work with children and one of the most important things I can feel led to teach them, is self-esteem!
    Proverbs 12:10 “A Righteous Man Cares For the Needs of His Animals.”

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