Think of your first opportunity in ministry: You were fired up, enthusiastic and ready to take on the world. We all start ministry that way, or close to it. After all, you said yes to God and yes to a leader who invited you on the team. Even if you were a little nervous or unsure, you were in.
Even with a great start, it’s surprisingly easy for your passion for ministry to fade. It can become commonplace and routine. It’s not unusual for a leader to slide into a comfort zone and not realize it. This often leads to maintaining the status quo and complacency. In time, this skews your perspective, and eventually your heart is no longer on fire to serve.
Long ago we used to say, “Fan the flame of your calling.” Those are old-fashioned words, but the meaning is still substantial. If you don’t tend to the fire, it will go out. That’s just a fact of leadership and ministry life. Just like a campfire will soon go to embers, fade and go out, your passion will dwindle without new fuel and intentional cultivation.
Here are four practices to keep your passion high.
1. Remember your conversion.
You were not saved by works, but you were saved to do good works.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Eph. 2:8-10)
Your call to serve and lead can never be separated from your conversion. Your salvation through Christ is the foundation of your call to ministry. If your faith is shaky or becoming “same old same old,” your call can turn to mechanical duty. It can become a routine, in which you merely go through the motions. This leaves you dangerously close to operating on your own talent, rather than the power of the Holy Spirit.
Regularly reflect on your experience of conversion. Thank God for that grace. Soak in that truth and the amazing love of Christ. Just two minutes is all it takes. What he did for you provides fuel to share that grace with others.
2. Be clear on your calling.
It’s important to know if your call to serve in ministry is part of your Christian life as a volunteer leader, or if it is to full-time vocational service. You may do nearly the exact same function, for example, as a teacher, but the context is very different. If your professional work life is where you live out your faith, and you volunteer at your church, that’s one kind of call. If you are paid to lead full time in a local church, that’s a different calling from God.
These two are very connected, and there is overlap, but I’ve known too many men and women who push against what God had in mind. There are some who fight “the call” and resist vocational ministry, and others who force it when God wants them in the marketplace.
Until this is clearly settled, you will lack the inner peace and rest your soul needs to keep your passion burning bright for ministry.
3. Love what you do.
When you love what you do, three things are added to you and your ministry that contribute to passion.
- Energy. You will always have energy for what you love. If you love your work, you’ll care about it, and when you care, that generates personal energy. We often call that internal motivation. It’s a fire that burns within!
- Joy. When you love your work and your energy is strong, a sense of joy pervades! This doesn’t mean every day is an easy day, but the practical translation is that even on the tough days, it’s worth it! This makes the majority of your work fun, and you truly can enjoy it. This continually reignites your passion.
- Improvement. It’s absolutely vital to keep growing while you keep going. The goal is to get better at what you do. How are you improving? Improvement increases passion!
4. Love the people you serve with.
It isn’t always easy to love the people you serve with, but it’s infinitely easier if you choose to love them!
Whether you serve as a volunteer or on staff full time, here are three practical guidelines to a caring connection with your team.
- Be close to a few. You were never designed to be close buddies with everyone on the team. Human chemistry doesn’t work that way. But there should be one or two people, or perhaps even three or four, whom you share a special bond and close relationship with.
- Connect with all. If you are part of a large staff or part of a group of volunteer leaders, it’s healthy to experience an easy and comfortable connection with everyone. It’s more casual than close, but there is a sense of teamwork, and you enjoy each other even if the interactions are brief. You feel like you are all “in this” together.
- Have unresolved conflict with no one. Since there will be conflict even on the healthiest and most successful of teams, the key here is no unresolved conflict. If there is a rift between you and a teammate, take the initiative to make it right. Don’t let it sit and fester and become a poison in the team chemistry. Have the conversation today.
These simple guidelines will help you love genuinely, which always leads to greater passion for your ministry.