by Todd Arnold
Everything that Jesus did was motivated by a single WHY—the Father's will. "Did ye not know that I must be about my Father's business?" were some of Jesus' first recorded words when Mary and Joseph came looking for Him in the temple (Luke 2:49). And nearing the end of His life, Jesus' prayer, "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt,” oozes His commitment to God's plan for the redemption of mankind (Matthew 26:33). This intense, life-long devotion emanates from a deep-seated passion for His purpose.
Imagine the effectiveness of a team, ministry, or otherwise, with members who all live this high level of devotion. Its possibilities are limitless. Its influence is potentially life and world changing.
How would you describe your organization? All in, fully engaged, enthusiastic, and energized? Unflagging devotion, unswerving commitment, a laser-like focus? A twinkle in their eye, a spring in their step, excitement in their voice? Or, dragging in just in time, leaving as soon as possible, doing just enough and only what they are told? Unfortunately, we all likely have one more of the latter group on our team than we wish.
Too often we focus on HOW we do WHAT we do and fail to think about WHY we do it, which leads to an uninspired, disengaged team.
But what can we do? How can we inspire our people? Is there any hope?
Simon Sinek suggests there is hope in his book Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. He defines WHY as the purpose, cause, or belief for which an organization exists and makes the case that people will rally around and commit to a WHY that resonates with them. Too often we focus on HOW we do WHAT we do and fail to think about WHY we do it, which leads to an uninspired, disengaged team.
Consider Jesus one more time. He clearly understood and was fully committed to His WHY. As Jesus approached the final hours of life, Simon Peter cut off Malchus' ear in Gethsemane. But Jesus rebuked Simon Peter saying, "Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?" (Matthew 26:52-53). Jesus could have avoided the cruelty, humiliation, and death of the cross, but His WHY, the purpose for his coming to earth kept Him from accessing those resources. Can you grasp the power of such devotion?
Think about the disciples. Why would they give up their jobs, their families, and ultimately, except for John, their lives to follow Jesus? Consider Jesus' invitation to Peter and Andrew as they plied their trade. "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men" (Matthew 4:18-19). Jesus gave them an opportunity to commit their lives to a great cause. They could go from the mundane existence of filling empty stomachs to fulfilling the spiritual hunger of mankind. "And they straightway left their nets, and followed him" (Matthew 4:20). They were immediately captured by the cause. And Scripture tells the story about how this inspired band of men influenced their world for God. Imagine how a group of Christians with a compelling purpose could impact your community.
Jesus gave the disciples an opportunity to commit their lives to a great cause.
Are you searching for a way to invigorate your team? Being well-prepared demands time and effort while "others are out having fun." Rising early "while everyone else sleeps in" to get vehicles ready to pick up children quickly loses its pizzazz. Cleaning the bathrooms, emptying the garbage, picking up trash, reorganizing the classroom and other necessary tasks often go unnoticed until something is missed leading one to wonder whether it really matters. It's easy to go through the motions, to get the job done, doing the WHAT in short-term. But maintaining the fire in one's belly over the long-term requires a compelling WHY. Inspire them with WHY.
Why am I working so hard to teach this Sunday school class well? Because someone asked me to? Because I was the only one available? Because someone has to do it? Or, do I see my role as a part of God's plan to teach the Bible to my students who are all eternity bound? This is a compelling cause to serve. It has staying power.
A compelling cause to serve has long-term staying power.
Inspire your people with WHY. Clearly articulate the biblical purpose of the church and repeat it regularly. Jesus commissioned us to make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). It's about allowing ourselves to be used by God to reach others for Him, about presenting lost souls with the Good News, about bringing people to a life changing encounter with Jesus Christ—then helping them live a holy life before God and man. This is a compelling cause that will capture the hearts and minds of your people and inspire them to committed action.
John Maxwell writes, "When I am working within my WHY, ... I am able to remain motivated long after the first rush of enthusiasm and excited energy wears off. I guess you could call it WHY power. It can carry you forward when WILL power isn't enough" (Developing the Leader within You 2.0). Your people will get tired and weary from the demands of the journey, but there will be an inner fire kindled by their WHY and burning brightly that inspires them to keep going.
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Dr. Timothy Cooley, Sr.
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