How Do We Stay Motivated?

I’ve been involved in pastoral ministry since 1976, and in a full-time capacity since 1979. Recently, I’ve been thinking about pastoral motivation. What is it that keeps us pastors going?

By that I don’t mean, what keeps us going professionally, as though our motivation were derived from statistics, budgets, salary, and benefits.

What I do mean is what keeps us going … doing real ministry to real hearts in authentic ways?

2 Corinthians 4:1-2 Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. {2} But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. 

I/we wear many hats: we’re sons of God, disciples of Christ, husbands, fathers, grandfathers, pastors, teachers, examples, equippers, evangelists, visionaries, mentors, counselors, administrators, executives, sons, and for those who are bi-vocational, tentmakers.

A couple of weeks ago, I was listening to a Bible study I taught sometime in late 1999. That time period was while I was still with Calvary Chapel Monterey Bay, prior to a string of painful events in my life that led to my resignation from that pastorate. While I was listening to the message, I was once again realizing the tremendous trust placed in me by so many. Again I felt a strong depth of sorrow for the people … again, I’m so sorry that those things had happened.

Not long after those thoughts came new ones; I began thinking about the great cloud of witnesses from Hebrews 11. While scripture doesn’t seem to be super clear about how much these witnesses are able to observe right now, it’s at least possible that they may indeed be watching us. (The angels are certainly looking into spiritual things, and are present at our gatherings.) At the very least, they will be welcoming us upon our entrance into eternity. Are they praying for us? Are they rooting for us? I suddenly had the very strong sense that the way I’m living my life right now has amazing implications and ramifications. I found myself, for a moment at least, in touch with eternity. I was being motivated!

So back to the main question: what keeps us pastors going?

Here are a few important truths for me. Maybe you can add your own as part of this discussion. Let’s encourage one another to love and good works.

…I’m motivated by my calling into ministry. (I love to remind myself often of the specifics.) For me, it was very supernatural.

…I’m motivated by the main thing, and the challenge of doing it. The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing. And the main thing of the Great Commission is discipleship. What a challenge to actually do it!

…I’m motivated by my peers in ministry. When I get close to other pastors and hear their stories, there are so many great things that I see that are encouraging.

…I’m motivated by the 2nd Coming of Jesus, and by the fear of the LORD.

…I’m motivated by the cloud of witnesses.

Etc. (here’s where you can add your own)

Thanks for reading.

2 replies
  1. Tim Brown
    Tim Brown says:

    Hi, Bill – great list. I can truly say that all those things motivate me, too. To fill one thing in the ‘etc.’ box: love for God and the people motivate me. It was love that motivated the incarnation and the cross. Love is a great motivator.

  2. Gunnar Hanson
    Gunnar Hanson says:

    Bill, thanks for the post. It struck me in a number of ways…first, you started CC Monterey Bay when I was in diapers. I was born September 1974 in the Monterey Bay area, but grew up in the Catholic Church. Later in life I became a Christian while serving as a Navy SEAL. When I was on leave visiting family in Monterey, CC Monterey Bay would be my church on a midweek service or Sunday morning. I don’t think we ever met personally, but you and your ministry had an impact on me. I was surprised to see that you had moved on to Santa Cruz. In reading your post, I find that I am curious if you would share from any lessons that happened during your experience at Monterey. You planted the church and were there for 27 years when something bad happened (I have no idea what this was other than what you shared above) that caused you to resign. As I young pastor, I am very curious about what happened and the lessons you learned through this to serve as a warning for us younger guys that might get to big for our britches so to speak…hope this makes sense.

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