Last week, I shared with you nine ideas about how to motivate yourself for a particular ministry task. In this article I’ll give you nine more ideas.
10. Avoid places or situations that might cause you to get sidetracked.
That’s why I don’t do any of my sermon preparation at the office. The walls are real thin in there. I can hear everybody having a good time outside, and I’m a party animal. I want to have fun! I don’t want to sit and study. I want to be out there with people. So I have to pick a different place to study to keep myself from having a great time with all these people I love at the office. And they appreciate it too! Then they get their work done.
11. Take advantage of your peak energy times.
Some of you are morning people. Some of you are night people. We all have certain points during the day where we are more effective, have more energy, and are more alert. The only people who are at their best all the time are mediocre people. You need to know when your body clock is geared toward maximum performance. You never want to waste maximum performance on secondary tasks. If your peak time is 10 to 12 in the morning, don’t read your mail then. Save those kinds of tasks for other not-so-peak times of the day.
12. Use the stimulation of good news to do extra work.
I do this all the time. Whenever I hear good news, it’s like God gives me a shot of adrenaline. All of a sudden, I’ve got a little extra bounce in my step. I try to channel that into ministry.
13. Recognize when indecision is causing inertia.
Often what we think of as procrastination is really indecision. As pastors this is a big problem. Every week, we have to figure out what we’re going to preach on next. Some pastors spend two or three days worrying about that. I like preaching a series. I only have to make that decision six or seven times a year! Then I can spend all of that energy I would have spent on deciding what to preach on figuring out what God wants to say through the messages. This works for other ministry tasks as well. Try to shorten the time you spend making decisions. Make a decision and go for it. Don’t waste time on indecision.
14. Use visible reminders.
I use Post-It Notes to remind me of what I need to do. I not only post reminders of my to-do list, but I also post some of my favorite anti-procrastination slogans, such as: “do the worst first,” “be a doer not a dawdler,” and “in just two days, tomorrow will be yesterday.” These help remind me of the cost of procrastination!
15. Give yourself the right to make mistakes.
I give myself the right to make mistakes on any project that I’m doing. Don’t demand perfection. Perfectionism produces procrastination. Perfectionism paralyzes us. We say, “If it's not perfect, it’s not worth doing.” That’s just wrong. If it’s worth doing, do it – whether you do it perfectly or not. Very little in this world is done perfectly.
16. Don’t set goals you can’t reach.
You won’t be motivated by goals you can’t reach.
17. Enlist a partner.
If you’ve got a big task to do, always get a partner. The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 4:9, “Two are better off than one, because together they can work more effectively.” (TEV) If you’re working on a big task alone, you’ll probably procrastinate. But if you’ve got somebody else working with you, you’re more likely to get it done.
18. Read books that increase your skills.
If I find myself having a hard time being motivated in an area of ministry that I’m called to do, I just get a book on it. If you have a hard time recruiting volunteers in your church, read a book on recruitment. If you’re having a hard time preparing sermons, find a book on the topic. If you’re having a hard time making leadership decisions, get a book on leadership.
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.