Ever find yourself in a battle between what you know you should do and what you actually want to do? A little angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. And you in the middle, giving yourself whiplash.
I am not talking about living up to other people’s expectations. That is a different conversation. These are the things that you know you should do but don’t feel like it. Things that are healthy for you, things that will make you stronger, things that honor God.
How do you overcome your lack of motivation and do the hard things? And let me clarify that sometimes things that appear small like reading your Bible or being vulnerable with someone you trust feels overwhelmingly hard.
You might assume pastors are immune to this problem. Let me assure you that we aren’t. There are mornings where I lay in bed, stare at the ceiling and will myself to move.
Sorry if I am shattering your image of me but I think one of the most paralyzing things we believe is that we are the only ones. We are alone and no one gets how it feels to lack motivation. No one else understands the pull to do what feels good instead of what is right.
There was a season of my life where every journal entry started with “I am struggling today…” One day I started reading back through the entries when I noticed the common thread and outlawed myself from using the word “struggle” for at least a month.
The two most common problems I hear from people are: “I don’t know what to do” or “I know what I need to do but I don’t want to do it.”
The first one isn’t usually too hard to address. God has given us an instruction book filled with wisdom for everyday life. He didn’t just send Jesus to lay down His life as a bridge for us to walk back into relationship with God, but He also provided us with a manual for sowing and reaping. Within the words of Scripture is the understanding we need to become a great gardener in life. As we sow according to God’s principles, we start to see a harvest of good things crop up in our life.
Beyond that, God also sent the Holy Spirit as a Helper for us.
The Spirit of truth will come and guide you in all truth. He will not speak His own words to you; He will speak what He hears, revealing to you the things to come and bringing glory to Me. The Spirit has unlimited access to Me, to all that I possess and know, just as everything the Father has is Mine. That is the reason I am confident He will care for My own and reveal the path to you. John 16:13 The Voice
So there is help and hope for understanding what to do. That doesn’t necessarily give you the motivation to do it, does it?
Here’s what I have found helps me when my motivation tank is on empty:
God has given you everything you need to become who He has called you to be. He hasn’t set a standard for your life and is now sitting back waiting for you to figure out how to pull yourself up to it. He is constantly offering grace, His helping power, for everything you need in life.
It looks a lot like a child calling out to their parent for help. “Mom, I can’t lift this. Can you help me?” “Dad, I can’t figure out this math problem. Can you explain it?” In a healthy family, kids have instant access to help. God’s family is a healthy one and when you ask for help, it is there for you.
So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:16
2. Reach for the Anchor
Water actually makes me pretty nervous. It is powerful and temperamental. Not an awesome combination.
I love anchors because they are stability in a world of chaos. Anchors reach down through the unsteady waters and firmly grab hold of what is solid. The anchor is a conduit, transferring strength from solid ground to those at the mercy of the sea.
God gave us Scripture as our anchor. It is solid ground below a moving sea. When the storm begins to brew, I grab hold of what is sure and let it dictate my decisions. I place my hands around it and let it transfer strength into me.
Evil people try to drag me into sin, but I am firmly anchored to your instructions. Psalm 119:61
3. Make an Exchange
When something that used to work stops working, it usually because an exchange needs to happen. The dead battery needs to be taken out and a fresh battery put in. A broken part needs to be replaced by a whole one. Whatever is clogging up the system needs to be removed and things need to be reset.
One of the mistakes I have made is thinking that I just need to vent when everything breaks down. While part of the solution is getting things out that are muddling up my thoughts and emotions, I also need something new put in. I need an exchange.
Prayer is a place of exchange. I give God my bad attitudes and I receive His grace, wisdom, and strength. Trusted, wise friends are also a place of exchange. I tell them what is swirling in my head and I let them tell me what I need to hear even if I already know it.
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:28-29
I know it feels helpless when your motivation is gone. Let me encourage you that you are not alone and you have access to what you need to keep moving forward.
God has great plans for your life. This is only a season. It will pass. And you will look back at something beautiful God was building in you when taking the next step felt really difficult but you did it anyway.