By Jeremy Linn
You were driven. Each day you were excited to take another step forward. God seemed to be doing amazing things.
Now, months later, your passion has disappeared. Each day you feel worn out and progressively waste more of your time. You wonder if God will ever use you to the same extent as you once experienced.
What happened? Have you lost motivation to pursue the primary passion God has given you?
I certainly have felt this way before. Upon the start of a new ministry, I was constantly motivated to keep taking steps and saw God do incredible things in the process.
Then over time, the amazing moments started to fade. Team communication halted. And my motivation plummeted to the point I didn’t know what to do next.
This path led me to wonder – what problems could have led me to lose motivation for something I had such a strong passion for?
To begin working through this question, I wrote down nine problems that could cause you to lose motivation for your God-given passion and listed action steps that could help to address each one. And now, I share the results with you. As you skim through the list, feel free to skip over the problems that don’t affect you, and focus more on the ones that may be causing you to lose motivation.
PROBLEM #1 – A lack of communication causes delays and stagnation.
You want to take action but can’t seem to because you need input from others first. With communication shut down, your motivation stalls out.
- Consider and pray about the role of patience in your circumstance. It’s possible that your expectations of the other people involved are unrealistic.
- Seek out a solid mediator who will help set up and direct any needed conversations. Doing so enforces the need to communicate and work through any issues, and adds a potentially helpful and unbiased voice to the discussion.
- Determine what steps you can take now before communication happens. Taking action on something, even if it’s small, can help bring back some sense of motivation.
- Consider coming to a decision on your own if it is clearly waiting for input is more detrimental than it is potentially helpful. If you are thinking about taking this step, it may be a good idea to run the idea by at least one wise person you trust.
PROBLEM #2 – You are comparing yourself with people going down a similar path who appear to be more “successful.”
You think you will never be as successful as the person or group you have in mind, so wonder what the point is of continuing. The doubts in your mind cause a loss of motivation.
- Recognize you are comparing. If you have feelings of jealousy and self-doubt when you observe the impact others are making, this problem likely affects you. The recognition is a crucial first step in alleviating the weight of comparison.
- Reach out to people you are comparing yourself with. If it is possible to connect, a conversation makes a person you are idealizing through comparison seem more “human.” It also gives you an opportunity to learn from people, diminishing the desire to compete with them in your mind.
- Pray for humility and study scripture surrounding the topic. Humility is essential to handle success in a way consistent with the character of Christ. Humility also lessens the pressure to see instant success and turns your focus instead of faithfulness.
- Work on developing your “lane.” If you are doing something specific that no one else is doing in your area of passion, you have no reason to compare what you’re doing with others. You can instead focus on what’s ahead in your wide-open “lane.”
PROBLEM #3: A fear of failure is holding you back.
You fear your actions won’t lead to results that match or exceed your expectations, causing you to wonder if it’s worth stating to take those actions.
- Evaluate your expectations. Instead of keeping your expectations stuck in your head, write them down and ask yourself if they appear unrealistically high.
- Establish a short-term goal to strive after. This step can put your focus on what is currently in front of you, rather than your worries of meeting your long-term expectations.
- Put your trust in God. No matter the expectations we have for our passion, we can find contentment in Christ – echoing the Apostle Paul’s “secret of being content” spelled out in Philippians 4:11-13.
- Dig into “success” stories. There is often a slow start and a load of work involved to get to the point of perceived success. Hearing these stories can help us to realize that “success” doesn’t happen right away – it typically comes through a series of small steps taken over a long period of time.
PROBLEM #4: Your time is taken up by average things that don’t provoke inspiration and excitement.
You’re not spending your time on “great” things that spark your passion. Over time, your motivation dulls as you lack moments of excitement for what lies ahead.
- Acknowledge that feelings are not the primary driver of your life. You often need to do things that feel “average” in order to reach a “great” goal. But having that “great” goal in mind can spark motivation, which leads to the next step.
- Evaluate your passion and goals. Take time to journal and pray about where God has led you, how he has built you, and what he might be leading you to focus on. Then start taking actions to foster that focus area.
- Keep a record of activities you are doing right now. This recording will help you to determine which activities you could drop, and how much open time you have to further your area of passion – to pursue something “great.”
- Drop one “average” thing and pick up one “great” thing in line with your passion. These changes will help you to see if this factor is affecting your motivation levels, and they create at least one new and potentially exciting opportunity.
PROBLEM #5: A sin issue provokes shame and doubts that you are “worthy” to act on your God-given passion.
You don’t push forward with your passion because you already don’t feel “good enough” or “spiritual enough” for it.
- Acknowledge God’s grace through prayer – thank God for the forgiveness He has provided through Jesus Christ. This is the essential step needed to restore the connection with God and deal with feelings of shame.
- Seek out accountability with one person or a group, where the body of Christ can work together to overcome sin through God’s power. If you don’t know where to start, try an online search for your city/state, a specific sin area, and “Christian recovery.”
- Work through the origins of your pattern of sin. This step could involve journaling about your past, talking to a counselor, or sharing your struggles with close friends.
PROBLEM #6: You feel disconnected from God compared to how you used to feel.
This sense of disconnection could be caused by a variety of factors beyond sin issues – an overwhelming sense of busyness and isolation from other Christians are examples.
- Schedule daily time to spend with God. Use that time to engage in spiritual disciplines – reading scripture, prayer, and even meditation on God’s word and character can build up a connection with God when done consistently.
- Seek a strong Christian community where others can encourage you in building your relationship with God and the pursuit of your passion. Look especially for a group where the spiritual maturity of people in the group fosters an environment where you can grow.
- Journal factors that lead to the distance. Journaling can help us be more aware of the specific factors tearing apart our relationship with God. If anything, the journaling will give you a clear sense of what to bring to God in prayer.
PROBLEM #7: You lack a connection with people you can share your passion with.
You feel alone in the pursuit of your passion and don’t receive encouragement to continue forward, which drives you into self-doubt and a gradual loss of motivation. Action Steps:
- Share what you’re doing with current friends on a consistent basis, even if they don’t share the same passion. You can approach this conversation by saying, “it may be helpful to talk with you about my passion from time to time. Would you be okay with doing that?”
- Do research to locate people near you who may have a similar passion, and make a list of the people you find. A simple way to begin is to do an online search for your location plus area of passion.
- Make a goal to reach out to one person you listed every month. This is a modest goal that will help you start getting connected with people in your area of passion.
- Join social media groups related to your area of passion. In-person connections are preferable to online ones, but these social media groups can provide a burst of encouragement as you interact with people about your difficulties and successes.
PROBLEM #8: You don’t have a clear vision or goals related to your passion.
While you have an idea of what your passion is, you have little sense of direction for what to do with it, and thus don’t have a foundation built which will drive motivation.
- Identify any vision and goals you have in mind right now. If you are drawing a big blank, that’s a sure indication this area is one to work on.
- Take time to work out a vision and set a few achievable, time-specific goals. Prayer and talking to people who know you well are helpful ways to get this process going.
- Practice patience while praying for a vision. Passion can drive you to want to take action constantly, but the action won’t be maximally effective if a strong foundation of vision and goals is not established first. It may take time to develop this foundation, but that’s okay – the time provides an excellent opportunity to seek God in the process and to develop skills you’ll need when it’s time to run full speed ahead with your passion.
PROBLEM #9: You feel overloaded by the commitment required for things you’re involved with.
The resulting stress causes your physical and mental health to suffer, along with your relationship with God. You lose motivation to take action on just about anything, including your passion area.
- Write down everything you are involved in on a weekly basis, and how much time those things take up. This is a great first step to help you understand why you feel overloaded.
- Share how you feel to people you trust. Those people can help you talk through your thoughts and feelings of being overwhelmed, and can point out any obvious solutions you may not have considered.
- Drop one thing that is lower in priority, and observe the difference dropping that thing makes. It’s possible that a larger overhaul is needed before the feeling of being overwhelmed changes, but dropping one small thing is a good starting step.
This list is not exhaustive, nor is it meant to give you the perfect solution to get you on the motivation track again. But the action points can at least get you out of inactivity, and back into a gradual buildup of motivation.
The main idea is this: when you feel like you’ve lost motivation, ask yourself what problems could lead to that loss. Once you identify potential problems, plan to take one or two small action steps that could help alleviate the problem.
And through the process, pray for wisdom and set your focus on God.
Recommended resources related to the topic:
The Great Apologetics Adventure by Lee Strobel (Mp3)
Living Loud: Defending Your Faith by Norman Geisler (Book)
Practical Apologetics in Worldview Training by Hank Hanegraaff (Mp3)
Jeremy is the co-founder of the ministry Twin Cities Apologetics and is an accountant for a law firm in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He’s also going to Bethel Seminary for a graduate degree in a program called Christian Thought (basically Apologetics!). Outside of Apologetics, Jeremy enjoys sports, playing guitar, and making videos.
Free CrossExamined.org Resource
Get the first chapter of "Stealing From God: Why Atheists Need God to Make Their Case" in PDF.