Okay, so here it is the middle of September, back to school has happened and the kick-offs are all around us. Get involved! Join this! We need volunteers for this! We want to serve this year! *Sigh* I don’t know about you, but today I just wanna crawl back into a hole and eat my secret stash of chocolate covered almonds. The whole bag. By myself. I’m supposed to start teaching Sunday School this week. Our study group begins again. We want to serve others and engage with family this year. The kids will soon be starting lessons and clubs and the minivan will be put into overdrive as workshops start up again for me. It’s usually a time when my organizational skills flourish and I get all excited for new beginnings… but I just ain’t feeling it. Can I get an amen? Anyone else struggling with feeling motivated? Are you a leader and trying to recruit some volunteers but get the same five people for every ministry? Or are you like me and feeling like the apostle Paul in Romans 7? You want to do the things you know you should do, but you just don’t do them. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak, as they say.
Okie dokie then. Shall we muse together on how to start that spiritual flame under our unmotivated, ummm, slightly “fleshy” behinds and move forward? Are you with me? It will be no easy task, my friends… chocolate covered almonds have a big pull for me…
Did you know that if you google motivation, there are almost 940 000 000 results?! Obviously we are not alone here. This is a big issue… and “how to stay awake” is in the top 5. Maybe people are simply just tired. Our flesh is weak. Literally. Highly motivated people quickly burn out if we don’t get proper rest. Late nights and too many chocolate covered almonds don’t make for good servants. We know this. However, it’s a good place to start. A strung out new mom who is caring for a colicky newborn might not be the best one to ask to head up the children’s ministry. Just sayin’. So our number 1 must be: take care of the physical you. Rest well.
My number 2 is: pray about it. Life is hard sometimes. Only God knows our future and our past. He has given you the gifts to move forward, and can heal the hurts from before. Tell Him your frustrations. Ask others to surround you with prayers as well. If need be, seek Godly wisdom and prayers from professionals who might need to help in practical ways you cannot provide for yourself alone. Those prayers may also be the catalyst in sending others your way! Who knows, maybe someone is praying about how to serve you! This intimacy with God often gives us clarity and focus. Perhaps you will add some quiet meditation or praise and worship music to re-align your focus on “things above” versus the many distractions we have “here below.” I often end up praying about what to blog about — because my thoughts are not always the ones that need to be said… and it often surprises me the direction that my muses take!
One of my biggest obstacles is being overwhelmed with the task at hand. I look at the space around me and think, nope, too big, not worth the effort, where are my almonds? Oh man, I struggle with this one. I am task oriented, so if the task is too big, I can’t wrap my brain around it and quickly become unmotivated. This is where I have to heed the words a very wise friend once told me… just do the next thing. Say you want to live simply and clear the clutter. Thinking about the whole house might be overwhelming. Start with one drawer, or one closet, and then… do the next thing. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
That leads to the next big one… the plan. This is not new either, I am just reminding you (and me) that you have to plan for things to happen. My husband and I often converse about this one… he hopes things will just fall into place, that his romantic gestures will sweep me off my feet and date night will spontaneously happen due to some great alignment of the universe. But he knows that if he sets it up on the calendar, I am more likely to carve out that time with him to work on our relationship. Some of us need this more than others. Many volunteers quickly abandon their posts if there is no set plan. Don’t forget that plans include your materials! Some folks are overwhelmed with a disorganized, unkempt space. Many are willing to cook at the pancake breakfast fundraiser… but if the kitchen is a disaster and there are no clean spatulas, it might be a no-go.
I Corinthians 15:58 reminds us that nothing we do is in vain. The smallest efforts can lead to great things with God’s help. However, I do think He wants us to set a distinct purpose behind our efforts. Ever have your kids ask WHY? Why do I have to go to school? Why do I have to clean my room? Why do we have to go to church? Why is the sky blue? If we don’t know why we are doing something, then it often loses its lustre and we become frustrated with the effort it takes. Or it is simply not needed. Do you run a program just because there has always been one? Is it necessary? There is a story about a new housewife who always trimmed the ends off her roast before cooking it. One day she asked her grandmother: why? Was it some ancient technique for a fine Sunday dinner? Her grandmother replied that it was the only way a large roast would fit in her small roasting pan. Yup, sometimes it’s helpful to know the purpose behind the plan.
Occasionally, we get motivated by an event/learning experience. If you are new to mittonmusings, you will quickly discover that I am always up for learning something new. I am eager to draw information from others. To glean insight from another perspective or someone else’s life experience. I had the privilege of sitting under some very learned people this summer… and was able to fill my brain with a tonne of things to spark my musings. Our little blips of time on this planet are not enough to cover all that is possible. God’s great big world is full of opportunities!
Having said that, it is a good reminder to me (and you!) to never take anyone for granted. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to help directly — but don’t leave them there all alone! A servant who gives of their time should never be ignored. Encourage those around you who have accomplished even the smallest task. It is a big motivator in taking the next bite of the proverbial elephant. Our youngest son was often overwhelmed with anxieties when attempting new tasks. We knew that slow (and often painfully time consuming!) encouragement to “just do the next thing” allowed him to overcome his fears and often flourish at the task at hand. By learning things and being encouraged by others, we often strengthen our own efforts, and can focus in on the real purposes behind our motivations.
Above all, our motivation should continue to guide us forward towards Heaven. Matthew 6 tells us that no matter what we do, no matter what the goal is, or what steps we take to get there, the motivation we have is always based on where our hearts are. The treasures at the end of the journey will be reflections of where our hearts were at the beginning. Want to motivate others? Encourage their hearts. Want to motivate yourself? Spend some time letting God change you from within. Oh… and a few chocolate covered almonds can’t hurt.