Never lag in zeal and in earnest endeavor; be aglow and burning with the Spirit, serving the Lord. Romans 12:11
My husband and I just celebrated our anniversary: 30 years thank you very much! When I fell in love with him at age 16, I thought I knew what love was. I didn’t have a clue. Any of you who are married know what I mean. Through the years, marriage has challenged me, matured me, drove me crazy, and kept me sane. I’ve learned that staying “in love” takes work. And commitment. And perseverance.
So does ministry. Even the best leaders can lose their passion. Their commitment wanes. They can begin to question their calling, especially if they aren’t seeing the growth or results they expect. Ministry, as my Grampa used to say, “is a tough row to hoe.”
Maintaining your passion for ministry is similar to fostering a good marriage. There are steps along the way we can take (and pitfalls to watch out for!) to make sure the fire in us–and in our people–doesn’t die.
Here are 3 ways to stay in love with your vision…
1. Court it.
You’ve heard it before: He courted me until he caught me. Then everything changed.
It happens in relationships, business, and in ministry. When we first start out all we can think about is our ministry; what it will be like when we can use our gifts, help people, and build something that matters. We go to bed dreaming about it and wake up excited and passionate. The months go by. The honeymoon is over. Now your dream follows you to bed and wakes up next to you–and it isn’t always pretty. It has bad breath. It snores. You get the idea…
In these moments, you need to “court” your dream. Courting is simply pursuing. When you are feeling nagged or bored by your ministry, maybe you need a date night! Schedule a day (or part of a day if that’s all you can find) and get away with your vision. Take a notebook and a Bible. Write out your dreams for the future and your hopes and expectations for your ministry. Ask God to expand your vision. And thank Him for what He’s already done–even if your ministry is just you, right now. After this time together, you will have a fresh appreciation for where you are and where you are headed.
2. Speak well of it.
Have you ever met couples who don’t get this? They make you uncomfortable by their snide remarks and petty bickering. And they don’t seem to notice they are in public? I have. I’m sorry to say, I may have even been half of one of these couples before. Michael Hyatt recently wrote a post called Why Speaking Well of Your Spouse Matters which addresses this issue.
To relate this to ministry, how you speak about your ministry, your organization, and your dreams matter, too. Don’t expect positive results if you are negative and surly. If you are frustrated right now with where you are or disappointed by a lack of progress, pay close attention. Your words need to be in alignment with what God has called you to do–the results, not the struggle. I know how tough this can be. And we all know how good a vent session can feel. But I have learned the hard way, venting isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Often we end up feeling worse and the release of negativity is far from positive! To remain in love with your vision and your calling, you need to speak well of it. Focus on the good not the bad…and strive to encourage everyone you talk to with your words.
3. Appreciate it.
Sometimes when people are in long-term relationships they begin to take the other person for granted. I think this is natural. However, I’m not sure it’s helpful. It happens when we stop appreciating the gift we have in that other person. We may even begin to believe our relationship is about us and what makes us happy, not the opportunity to bring out the best in someone else.
Stop and think about your ministry as a person with which you are in a relationship. Are you appreciating her? Are you humbled, honored, and thankful that God has given you the opportunity to serve in such a capacity? This slight change of perspective can make you fall in love all over again!
Staying passionate and excited about what we do can be as much work as the actual work of ministry! Maybe you have fallen completely out of love with your vision, or your passion has burned out. These steps can help.
But if you are in trouble and feel like walking away, please don’t. There are times in marriage and in relationships when we need someone to talk to; someone who can give us perspective and godly counsel. I encourage you today to seek out that counsel. Don’t let the fire die! We need you and your ministry. No one else can do what you are called to do. And as always, if I can help in any way…please reach out to me.