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How to Give Instructions So People Will Follow Them

Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.


Have you ever wondered why people don't follow your instructions? It could be that you are not giving instructions the proper way.

There are ways to give instructions so anyone will be glad to follow them. Jesus knew He was going to leave the earth and He gave His disciples some final instructions that included all the proper parts.

People Who Give Instructions

From time to time, certain people must give instructions to those under their authority.

  • Bosses give instructions especially when they will not be available to handle things on their own. When a boss goes on vacation, he leaves instructions for those he expects to run the company in his absence.
  • When a parent leaves home, she gives instructions to the children so the house will still be intact when she returns.
  • Teachers give students instructions with every assignment throughout the school day.
A coach

A coach

  • Coaches give instructions so their teams will win games.
  • Church leaders succeed with parishioners when they give clear and concise instructions.
  • Jesus gave instructions to His disciples before He went back to heaven to be with His Father.

We can learn a lot about the instructions Jesus gave in Acts 1:4 and Acts 1:8. He had been given them instructions for three years while He was still on earth. His final instructions were more detailed. We can learn the principles and use them the next time we give instructions.

On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samara, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:4, 8)


Instruct What Not to Do

The first thing to be noticed in Jesus' instructions is that He told His disciples what not to do followed by what to do.

"Do not leave Jerusalem."

When you tell someone what not to do, make sure it is related to what you are telling them to do. Refrain from giving a list of unrelated do's and don'ts. That's not necessary. Besides, it could be confusing to the people you are instructing.

Be Specific, Clear, and Concise

Make sure your instruction is specific, clear, and concise. Do not hide the main part of your instructions in a lot of rhetoric. Use short sentences and stick to the point. It is better to give one set of instructions at a time instead of giving someone a long list of things to do.

"But wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about."

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Indicate a Promise

Your instructions should include a promise.

"In a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."

Give people something to look forward to. This will motivate them. Don't instruct people to do something without a promise with personal or professional benefits.

Give a Result

Let people know what will happen when they follow your instructions. It will give them a good reason to do what you tell them to do.

"But you will receive power."

Most people want to know "What's in it for me?" Make sure you remind them of any personal benefits they will receive.

Give Instructions in an Orderly Manner

Always give the results in an orderly fashion. Do not skip about or beat around the bush. After Jesus told His disciples they would receive power, He gave them another result in the correct order

"You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

Follow the Above Tips

You must admit these instructions that Jesus gave His disciples were specific, concise, orderly, to the point, with a promise, and personal benefits. The disciples followed the instructions of Jesus to the letter. The Book of the Acts of the Apostles showed that they become mighty men who turned the world upside down by following Jesus' instructions.

If you follow the above examples, you might get better results from your children, employees, children, spouses, students, and parishioners.

If those under your authority are not following your instructions, don't blame them without evaluating your method of instructing them. It could be that your method needs improvement.


True Account

This is a true account of not giving precise and clear instructions. I hired a new employee and on the first day of her employment, I instructed her to take out the trash. She did, but she neglected to bring the trash can back after he put the trash in the dumpster.

I asked her why she did not bring the container back. She said, "You didn't tell me to bring it back." She was right. I learned that day to never assume anything when giving instructions.


Ellison Hartley from Maryland, USA on April 26, 2019:

Love this! I think some people definitely are born natural leaders and better at giving instructions than others. Relating it to biblical references is a great idea and might really help someone who struggles with this.

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