Pastors, we tend to share a lot throughout the year. Some of you are preparing two or three messages and presentations every week. When you repeat that process 52 times in a year, life gets exhausting. How do you stay motivated to keep going?
Let me share with you how I’ve managed to motivate myself. Here are 17 things you can do to keep yourself motivated.
1. Put your plans on paper. Write out what you want to accomplish. Spell it out. 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.
A lot of us go around with anxiety that is this free-floating, vague fear that we're not getting it all accomplished. Just the very fact of putting it down, a lot of times, gives credence and relief to your mind and you’re able to focus on it.
2. Break big tasks into small steps. When I’m preparing a sermon, I think, “What do I have to do? I’ve got to collect the verses, study the verses, look for illustrations, think through quotes, organize the presentation.” Think through all the steps. Sermons don’t just fall out automatically. There are some logical things you have to go through.
3. Decide how you want to start. Ask yourself what needs to be done first.
4. Establish checkpoints and check your progress. Set some deadlines. Write a date on each of the tasks.
5. Know the difference between “I can’t” and “I don’t want to.” It was Ben Franklin who first said, “There’s no gain without pain.” The secret of success in one sentence: 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 job. Jesus did this. The Bible says in Hebrews that Jesus endured the cross because He looked to the joy beyond it. He looked beyond the cross and saw the result of it.
7. Do a small part of it right now. In other words, get started. Do a small part of it right now. Don’t stall. Take it a bite at a time, and give it five minutes.
8. Be optimistic. I have found this to be so important in accomplishing large amounts of activities and projects and programs. Optimism creates energy.
9. Establish an action environment. Clear everything else off your desk except for the task at hand.
10. Avoid situations that might tempt you to procrastinate. Avoid places or situations that distract you. That’s why I don’t do any of my sermon study at the office. The walls are really thin there, and I can hear everybody having a good time outside, and I’m a party animal. I want to have fun! I don’t want to be sitting and studying. I want to be out there with people. So I have to study at home to keep myself from having a great time with all these people I love at the office. And they appreciate it too!
11. Know your energy patterns and take advantage of peak times. Some of you are morning people. Some of you are night people. Have you learned that at some points in the day, you are brighter than at other times? You’re more alert and you have more energy. There are times when you’re habitually at your best. The only people who are at their best all the time are mediocre people.
12. Recognize when indecision is creating inertia. A lot of procrastination is not really procrastination; it’s indecision. A lot of pastors have to deal with this. Identify your choices and choose one. Don’t let it sit around.
13. Use visible reminders. I like to use Post-It Notes to remind me of things I’ve got to do. I collect anti-procrastination slogans, such as:
14. Give yourself the right to make mistakes. Don’t demand perfection. Perfectionism produces procrastination. Perfectionism paralyzes us. If it’s worth doing, do it whether you do it perfectly or not. There are very few things in this world that are perfect.
15. Don’t set goals you don’t expect to reach. There is absolutely no motivation in a fake goal.
16. Enlist a partner. If you’ve got a big task and it’s up to you, you’ll probably procrastinate. But if you’ve got somebody else and can say, “We’re going to meet and get this thing going,” you’re more likely to get it done.
17. Read books that increase your skills. If you have a hard time recruiting people to your ministry, go get a book on recruitment and read it. If you’re having a hard time delegating responsibility, get a book. If you’re having a hard time speaking in a Bible study, get a book on public communication.
Now, what have you been putting off that you need to get motivated and get accomplished?
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America’s largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times best-seller The Purpose Driven Life. His book The Purpose Driven Church was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also the founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.
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