Ministry Today – Serving and empowering church leaders

Pastor-Rick-Warren-Purpose-DrivenPastors, 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:

  • Tomorrow is too late.
  • Do the worst first.
  • Doing gets it done.
  • Tomorrow is never.
  • Make the day count.
  • Doing beats stewing.
  • In just two days, tomorrow will be yesterday.
  • Do it anyway.
  • Get the Now habit.
  • Get a “round tuit.”
  • Be a doer not a dawdler.
  • Why wait?
  • If not today, when?
  • You don’t find the time; you make time.
  • Make it happen.
  • If you have to do it, do it now.
  • Do it or ditch it.
  • Only turkeys procrastinate.
  • Lead time is the gift only I can give myself.
  • Beginning is half done.
  • Move ahead or move aside.
  • Winners don’t wait.
  • Choose this day to use this day.

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.

For the original article, visit pastors.com.

Leaders are readers! Subscribe now and get 3 magazines for the price of 1. Get Ministry Today, Charisma and SpiritLed Woman all for $24. YES - I'm a leader!

Ministry Today Subscription Special - Subscribe to Ministry Today magazine today and get 12 issues (2 full years) plus Amplified Leadership, a free leadership book for only $24.

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
  • Discouragement can be a serious struggle.

    Guard Your Spirit Against These 4 Crippling Attacks

    Are you struggling this Valentine's Day with one of these discouraging issues?

  • Worship leaders, keep your team's attitude in check.

    This Can Quickly Erode a Worship Team's Culture

    God has given us talent and He calls for excellence, but excellence with this is not honoring ...

  • A 'What's in it for me?' mentality could bring your church down.

    The Mentality That May Be Killing Your Church

    And we wonder why so many congregations are stagnated, plateaued or declining.

  • Why Many Christians Misunderstand This Crucial Leadership Trait

    Great leadership doesn't start with a great education, although that is incredibly valuable. ...

  • Start a Wildfire of Spiritual Growth in Your Church

    Start a Wildfire of Spiritual Growth in Your Church

    Watch how God can take one spark and turn it into a wildfire that impacts your ministry, your community and even future generations.

  • What reasons can you think of that leaders might not choose to delegate authority?

    7 Reasons Some Leaders Dump Delegation

    These could have a lot to do with stalled growth and low team morale.

  • Don't bring your sermons in for a crash landing.

    4 Terrible Ways to Close a Sermon

    People need an opportunity to respond to the Word of God.

  • Pastors and ministry leaders should be bold in preaching against the murder of unborn babies.

    Kingdom Influence: A Challenge to Young Pastors and Leaders

    Jentezen Franklin urges ministry leaders to be strong and courageous in dealing with these issues ...

  • Church response

    What Your Church Should Do When the Pastor Has an Affair

    It the midst of this awful situation, the church has the opportunity truly to be the body of Christ.

Use Desktop Layout
Ministry Today Magazine — Serving and empowering church leaders