When you start a project or task its easy to get motivated. New things are exciting and carry a sense of momentum. But we don’t just go and do new things… we do things that we believe in… we just find it easier to do the new ones!
So how do you keep plugging away at the project or task when it’s no longer new?
Part of the answer is to re-consider the motivation that made that task exciting in the first place. Ask yourself (or your team), “What were you excited about this project before you got started? What were you hoping it would do?”
The goal or purpose of the project shouldn’t have changed since then. And that means the motivation to reach that goal shouldn’t have changed either.
So dig into the love that sparked the task, and keep working to use that motivation to fuel the task.
(The recent Nexus2015 Conference “A cross shaped ministry” thought through the implications the cross has on how we think about gospel work in our churches. These are some of my personal reflections.)
1. The cross kills our wrong ministry motivations
We don’t do ministry to try to “pay back God”. We don’t do ministry to “stay in God’s good books”. We don’t do ministry because we’re afraid God will be angry with us if we don’t.
The cross of Christ, in our place, purchasing forgiveness and freedom from judgement saves us from all these errors. We are wise to go back to the cross and there remember it is all done, our heavily Father is pleased with us in Christ.
2. The cross kills our wrong worldly motivations
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Gal 6:14
Our union with Jesus, is a union with him in his death and resurrection. So much so that Paul says his relationship with the world is viewed through the lens of being crucified. I think that means the world sees him as good as dead, and he sees the world as good as dead.
In other words, the cross reminds us that this world is moving towards destruction to make way for a new creation to fit Jesus’ resurrected body and Jesus’ resurrected people.
This should affect our concerns, our desires, our goals for life. It should make us pause when thinking about our hopes and dreams – for they should not be filled with this world’s offerings, but with the next world’s promises. The cross means greed and coveting is even more inappropriate – if that were possible.
More to come…
Christians have an appropriate concern about their motives. We want to do things for the right motivations, and we want our church families to do things for the right motivations.
That’s a good thing. However, we can get caught up in the reasoning behind the right reasons. Are the reasons too guilt motivated? Are the reasons theologicaly sound? Are the reasons reasonable for where I’m at.
So, rather than doing Christian things for the right reasons, a better way to approach it might be to do things for the right person. Yes… Jesus.
When you consider who Jesus is, your forgiver, your brother, your master, your God… It motivates us relationally. We do things for him who died and lives for us.
Well yes, it really depends on what you mean by having a “poor attitude”.
But extremes aside, if someone’s attitude is just “off” or “a bit grumpy” about being part of a ministry… what should you do? Tell them to stop serving until their attitude is right? Or, tell them to just righten-up their attitude?
I think there’s two lenses to consider this question… is there a human aspect? Is there a gospel aspect?
It could just be that life is all too much at the moment, and they’re stuffed. They might just be tired. That is, they might have a good gospel attitude (if you asked them) but they’re just not aware of how they are responding or how they’re appearing and speaking to other people. That means you’re in a position to offer wise counsel about how to plan to serve (avoid late night tv the night before, etc.) and how to smile and talk to people while they’re serving. You’re helping them do what they already think is a good thing to do… just better… without the apparent chip on their shoulder.
But, it could be that they don’t want to serve Jesus and his people, or they feel like that role is beneath them. They might think they shouldn’t really have to serve and that Christian service should be like the self-serve check-outs at the shops… sure you have to try a bit hard, but there’s certain perks to it?!? They might not think their life is Jesus’ possession.
Even in many of these circumstances, I’d want to suggest they keep serving while you work through it with them.
Because serving isn’t something Christians choose to do… it’s part of our DNA… we follow a servant king. Telling someone to stop serving is like telling a fish to stop swimming because they find the water too warm.
If possible have them keep on swimming, keep on serving and all the while, keep helping them feel the privilege of serving their saviour.
Ministry is a hard game. We’re building relationships with people, as we help them build a relationship with Jesus. Its a big volunteer game too; we invite them to devote themselves to projects and events…
But there’s a wonderful question I was taught during my apprenticeship; Always ask yourself the question; Who do they love? You or Jesus?
As we do ministry, we become close to people, we become friends and team mates. And so when we ask them to help us, they can find it very easy to say “yes” to us – because of the relationship we have with them. And yet, they may have no desire to do those same things for Jesus. They just do it because we’ve asked them to.
Are your keen people doing what they’re doing because they love Jesus, or because they love you?
In some circles competition is shunned and avoided at all costs. And there can be some very good reasons for avoiding competition – especially when dealing with people who have a very competitive nature.
However, not everyone has a competitive nature, and sometimes, a bit of competition helps us as humans to spur one another on. It’s why some people go jogging or swimming in groups… the pull of wanting to keep-up with the others drives you on further.
And Paul leverages a bit of human competition in 2Cor 8…
“But since you excel in everything… see that you also excel in this grace of giving. I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others.”
And he does it about spiritual matters!! I often wonder what being biblically in line with Paul would look like today?
The difference between being in ‘sales’ and being in ‘ministry’ is heartbreak.
See, if I’m trying to sell you something, it’s because I get a commission, or it’s my job – get paid to help you want something (usually want something enough to buy it). If you decide to say “no”, it’s disappointing, and it may even be frustrating. I might have wasted heaps of time on one customer and never make the sale. I may even feel insecure about my ability. But that’s all.
On the other hand, if I’m doing personal follow-up at church, or inviting someone to a series like LIFE, or simply just trying to help someone see the majesty of Christ they should be living for… If they decide to say “no”, I would still experience all those things above (disappointment, frustration, insecure, etc). But, I will also experience heartbreak.
Because Christian ministry is motivated by love, it also has the potential to hurt. A lot. In fact, the more I cultivate love for you (which drives me to say certain things and do certain things) the more I open myself up to be heartbroken when I see you turn away from Jesus, continue in sin, make stupid decisions that will affect your relationship with Jesus and others.
Ministry is an investment of Jesus-inspired-love in people. We invest more than our time, energy, mind… we invest our heart. And so you can’t invest your heart into people without expecting to be heartbroken. When that happens, refill your heart with Jesus’ love and go love some more.