Something I read:from pastor Rick Warren, saddleback Church.
Motivation is contagious. I never try to motivate other people. I focus on motivating myself. When I’m motivated, I know others will catch my enthusiasm.
This is true in any area of ministry. If you stay motivated, those you lead will become motivated too. Below are nine ways I keep myself motivated. There’s nothing unusual or ground-breaking on this list, but these methods work for me and I’m confident they will work for you.
1. Put your plans on paper. Write out what you want to accomplish. Dawson Trotman said, “Thoughts disentangle themselves when they pass through the lips and the fingertips.” If I can say it and I can write it down, then it’s clear. If I haven’t written it down, then it’s vague. Just putting what you have to do down on paper will often relieve some stress and allow you to focus on your task.
2. Break big tasks into small steps. When I know I have a task coming up, I always write down the specific steps I need to take before the project is done. When I’m preparing a sermon, I ask myself, “What do I have to do to finish the sermon?” Then I write down all of the associated tasks, such as collecting the verses, studying the verses, looking for illustrations, thinking through quotes, and organizing the presentation. Sermons don’t just fall out of your brain automatically. We all go through specific steps as we’re doing it. Just learn to isolate those steps.
3. Decide where you want to start. After you’ve broken down the task into steps, ask yourself what needs to be done first. For example, if you’re preparing a sermon, what’s the very first thing you have to do? Discover your topic? Pray? You need to figure out where to start.
4. Establish check points to track your progress. Give yourself deadlines for each of the tasks needed to finish the project.
5. Start on the task whether you feel like it or not. Be honest with yourself. Usually when we say we can’t do something, we really mean we don’t want to do it. You’ve got to get tough. Most of the people who succeed in this world are those who don’t feel like doing what they’re doing. Successful people have developed the habit of doing things unsuccessful people don’t feel like doing.
6. Remind yourself of the benefits of completing the task. A lot of times I do this when I’m preparing a message. I’ve had a real long week, and my mind just isn’t there. I ask myself, “What is this going to accomplish?” In Hebrews, the Bible says, Jesus endured the cross because he looked to the joy beyond it.
It is easy in ministry to lose sight of what we are really doing: we are serving the God of the universe, and he is working through us to change lives! When things seem boring or mundane, remember the joy set before you.
7. Do a small part right now. Get started! Don’t stall. I play a game with myself all the time called The Five-Minute Game. When I have a big topic or task I need to do, I just say, “I don’t want to do this, but I’ll give it five minutes.” Once I get started, it doesn’t seem like such a big deal anymore.
8. Be optimistic. Optimism creates energy. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come into church and didn’t think I could make it through what I had to do. But I walked in saying, “In Christ, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Optimism can make all the difference in the world.
9. Establish an action environment. Create a place in your office where you can get all of your tools together for your task. If you’re preparing a sermon, find a place to get your Bible and your study aids all within reach. You need an environment where you can focus on the task at hand. I clear everything off the desk when I’m going to study because I don’t want to focus on anything else.
I’ve noticed some people use their desks as file cabinets. They say it is because they don’t want to forget what is there. But that’s the problem! You sit down to prepare a sermon and you see your phone list or a book you’ve wanted to read and, suddenly, you’ve drifted off task.
Success comes from focusing on one thing at a time. Clear off your desk. Make a to-do list so you won’t forget what you’ve taken off of your desk. Put a tickler file on your desk of stuff you need to look at every day, but then, when you pull it out and look through it, always put it back – so it won’t distract.