At one point or another you’ve probably said, “I have the best job in the world!”—and in the moment you whole-heartedly meant it. You love what you do, or at least you’re in love with the idea of what you do. Investing in the next generation ensures the continuation of the gospel. That should be motivation enough, right? Unfortunately, it’s not. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have an emotional connection to your ministry. I am saying your calling is more than a vague and overarching purpose statement. Your “why” has to be specific to you. What keeps you up at night? What gets your heart racing? What singular topic occupies your thoughts and the majority of your conversations?
For me, it’s this: I want kids to grow up loving church. More specifically, I want church to be a safe place that brings a smile. I want it to be a breeding ground for healthy relationships. I want my kids and others just like them to know that Jesus loves them and the church is for them, no matter what. This is my “why.”
A well-known philosopher once said, “He who has a why can endure any how.” It’s easy for leaders to get caught up in the “what” or “how” of ministry. We have software that keeps us on task. We create to-do lists and milestones that help us meet deadlines. These are great tools as long as our target hasn’t shifted. When asked, you shouldn’t have to think about why you do what you do. Your “why” is the foundation on which you build your ministry. Your “why” is your calling.
In Latin, the word inspire means “to breathe life into.” If your purpose isn’t as apparent as it should be, I encourage you to go back to the beginning and ask yourself: “Why did I choose this? What inspired me to take action? What did I intend to breathe life into?”
Here are five reasons why it’s important to know your “why:”
In his book Start With Why, Simon Sinek states, “Your why is your purpose, cause, and belief—it’s what’s driving your motivation for action.” When you don’t know where you’re going or what your objective is, you’ll end up somewhere you don’t want to be. Keep your “why” clear and your motives will be pure.
Having a clear “why” provides guiding principles as to what you do and how you do it. It gives you context. Just as any great business plan includes core values, the call God placed on your life should define your direction. When you act purposefully, you eliminate the possibility of digression.
I say it all the time. Ministry is messy. People are fickle. Leaders make mistakes. Budgets get cut. Suddenly your direct route has a major detour. When you find yourself in a time crunch or a sticky situation it is imperative to keep your “why” in the forefront of your mind. Clear purpose provides power and increases fortitude.
Many times we allow the gap between expectation and experience to overshadow the day-to-day victories. Sometimes switching the lens through which you view what you are doing, can actually alter your experience of it. When your “why” is clear, missteps translate into lessons learned, mistakes offer growth, and frustrations become nothing more than funny stories you tell at the staff Christmas party.
It’s much easier to step out of the boat and onto the water when your eyes are on Jesus. Knowing and understanding your “why” will instill the courage to take the risks needed to achieve your vision.
We’ve all heard the famous Rosa Parks quote, “Stand for something or you will fall for anything.” You may not realize the quote doesn’t end there. Ms. Parks goes on to say, “Today’s mighty oak is yesterday’s nut that held its ground.” The latter part is my favorite because it promises results. When the daily grind of ministry wears me down, I start to lose sight of the calling God has placed on my life. It’s much easier to focus on my to-do list rather than realign my heart with God’s will and remind myself of the “why.”
My challenge for you today is to refuse to work in vain. Don’t allow the enemy to take hostage your story for even one day. Hold your ground. Stand confident in your calling and keep the “why” clear and present in your heart. To the outside world your “why” might seem small and insignificant, but I refuse to believe my calling is a side project. The Creator of the universe infused my heart with a passion for engaging kids and empowering families through Christ’s love. I may look like a nut today, but I choose to believe my ministry will be a mighty oak tomorrow.
What is your “why”? I’d love to hear what motivates you.
Jessica Bealer has been leading children’s ministry for 14 years. Currently, she oversees standards, systems, and atmosphere for the children’s ministry of Elevation Church. Jessica is a mother of three and published children’s author. She is married to Frank, the Family Pastor at Elevation, and together they are the founders of Lead e3. You can find reach her on Twitter.