Ministry is hard work, folks. Its very hard and it takes a lot of energy to accomplish it all. In life, the why always determines the how long. If you dont know why youre doing what youre doing, youll never stick with it. The reason always determines the motivation.
Thats why we have so many depressed, discouraged people today. They have no reason for living. They get up in the morning and they go to work, they come home, they watch TV and go to bed and they ask themselves, Why am I doing this? If you have no reason, no meaning, no purpose in life other than just trying to get ahead if you dont know that there is much more to this life than survival then youre going to get discouraged and youre going to quit. You wont make it to the end of the race.
Its absolutely vital that you remember the reason you do what you do.
Even I get discouraged. Ive pastored in a wonderful church for 27 years, and do you want to know how often I feel like quitting? Every Monday morning. Thats about the time I think, Its somebody elses turn. It doesnt matter if you hit a homerun last week youre still facing another seven days at bat. Ive often thought, I dont have enough smarts to do this. Somebody else ought to be pastoring a church this size. Whenever I feel like giving up, I remind myself of two wonderful truths. Theyre the truths you should remember too:
1. When discouraged, I remember that my life mission comes from God. I didnt just make this thing up. He assigned it to me just like he assigned your life mission to you. And if our mission comes from God, then the power to fulfill it comes from him too. God doesnt ask you to do something he wont give you the energy, the brains, the intelligence to accomplish. So if he tells you, This is your life mission, then it will actually be easier to do it than to not do it. Because if you dont do your life mission, youre on your own power.
Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4, God has given us this work to do. So we dont become discouraged. Why am I doing this? Because its assigned to me by God.
2. When discouraged, I remember that Im going to be rewarded some day. 1 Corinthians 9 says, To win the contest, you must deny yourselves many things that would keep you from doing your best We dont like that part. What we want to do is what God wants us to do, plus we want to add to that everything else the world offers. God says, No, thats not possible. If youre going to win a race, youre going to have to go through some discipline, some self-denial. He says, To win the contest, you must deny yourselves many things that would keep you from doing your best. You dont have time for everything. If youre going to do ministry that means youre going to have to cut some things out of your life. but we do it for a heavenly reward that never disappears. So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step.
James Dobson was speaking on the radio recently, and he told about how he made it his goal in college to be the college tennis pro. He achieved his goal and got a nice trophy, which they put in a glass case right there on campus. But not too long ago, someone sent it to him with a note, explaining that theyd found his trophy in the trash and recognized Dr. Dobsons name.
Given enough time, somebodys going to throw out all your trophies. Thats because earthly rewards dont last. So dont live for the earthly rewards. Dont live for applause, dont live for acclaim or fame because youre going to be a hero one day and a zero the next.
There are really only three kinds of motivation:
There is internal motivation where I do things because Im motivated inside. The problem is, sometimes those internal motivations are wrong. You may be trying to please an unpleasable parent. You may be trying to overcome some feeling of inferiority. You may hope to get famous or get to the top of your class so everybody will look up to you. Internal motivations are often issues of pride.
Then there are external motivations. Thats the carrot on the stick. Thats when you get the gold watch, the pin, the trophy, your picture on the cover of some magazine. As weve already seen, though, these kinds of external rewards are temporary at best.
Neither internal nor external motivations will last. If youre going to make it to the finish line in the race of life, you need something different: eternal motivation. Thats where God tells us to keep our eyes on the goal in Heaven. Youve heard me say before, if you live to be 100 years old, thats only a millimeter on the yardstick of eternity. Youre going to spend far more of your life in eternity thousands and thousands of years in eternity and maybe 100 at the most on this planet. Dont build your life around just the here and now. Youve got to have eternal perspective.
The answer to discouragement is to focus on your purpose and not your problems. The key to endurance is perspective live your life in light of eternity. Most people in this world are living life as if all that matters is today. Thats wrong todays going to be over today! Its not going to last. But what is going to last is what happens in eternity. So keep your eyes on the reason youre doing it God has called you to this job and he is helping you. And remember the reward, which is Heaven. Thats a reward youre going to enjoy for eternity.
Until next week,
This article is adapted from Rick Warrens book, The Purpose Driven Church.
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and best-known churches. In addition, Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose-Driven Life and The Purpose-Driven Church, which was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th Century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for ministers. Copyright 2005 Pastors.com, Inc. Used with permission. All rights reserved.
Adapted from Rick Warren's Ministry ToolBox, a free weekly e-newsletter for pastors and church leaders, available at Pastors.com.