Passion is a motivator. Passion joyfully pushes us to the limits of our own ability and beyond. Passion stirs something in us that causes us to reach for things that are bigger than we are and a little higher than we can reach. What evokes passion in you? What stirs you up and motivates you to excellence and beyond? In this episode we discuss the things that get us going, the things that kill our motivation, and how to focus and refocus on our passions to ignite our motivation.

Last week we talked about how to get a lost motivation back. This week we continue the discussion by simply and practically discussing how we get moving and stay moving. A lot of things motivate us and push us forward, so how can we really lock in and lay hold of the things that propel us forward?

Continue reading for the article and episode notes.

Fire Up Your Passions: Motivation Energizers and Killers!

We’ve discovered American Ninja Warrior! It’s a reality show on NBC where competitors individually race through an extreme obstacle course. Through a series of elimination events in multiple cities, the elite converge on the finals. The finisher who completes the obstacle course in the shortest time is the winner. If no one completes the course in the finals, then no one wins the prize. We had heard of the show and seen it in the cable program guide, but never watched it before this season. Something about it draws us in.

We find it interesting that of all the hundreds of people who attempt this competition, only one gets a monetary prize. The others are content with the honor of being a competitor. Why? We think it’s because they want to go for it, they want a platform to showcase what they are capable of, they enjoy the community and training together. The obstacle course challenges them to their limits and they just want to be a part of it. It is a passion thing. These athletes are passionate. They are not competing for the monetary prize (which I am sure they hope for) because the odds are so slim of being the top finisher. In fact, I believe many of them know there’s little chance of them finishing first, but they compete because they are passionate competitors.

Passion is a motivator. Passion joyfully pushes us to the limits of our own ability and beyond. Passion stirs something in us that causes us to reach for things that are bigger than we are and a little higher than we can reach.

What evokes passion in you? What stirs you up and motivates you to excellence and beyond? In this article and podcast we discuss the things that get us going, the things that kill our motivation, and how to focus and refocus on our passions to ignite our motivation.

What gets me going?

A clear sense of direction gets me going. [6:40]

Have you ever been clouded and you stood in the middle of the floor not sure which way to go or where to start. Yesterday I hauled off two truckloads of stuff that’s been in the garage for months. Remnants of my past that needed dealt with. Yesterday I stood in the middle of the garage feeling overwhelmed. Some things should be sold, some things should be kept, some things I didn’t want to deal with, but had to. What got me moving? A clear decision. I decided to haul it away and just be done with it. Once I settled on a clear course of action, it became easy.

We are motivated by making a decision, establishing a clear course, and moving forward. Sometimes we are not motivated because we’ve not made a decision. We don’t have something to anchor in.

We did a series on decision-making several episodes ago. You have to decide something before you can do something. There are people who get up every morning and are paralyzed because they do not have a clear direction. It’s no wonder we sometimes lack motivation — it’s because we have not chosen a path.

RESPONSE: Chart your course, craft a clear path, decide where you will start and the direction in which you will walk.

A sense of excitement gets me going. [11:17]

A clear path is exciting. I know where I’m going, I’ve done the hard work of decision-making, now I’m ready to run. The decision, to me, is the hardest part.

Wow. To get up every morning excited about what the day holds is a wonderful place to be. I’ve been in other places, but when we anchor in hope and optimism it fosters excitement. When I’m excited about something I am motivated to pursue it. We have to keep our focus, we have to be sane, we cannot run in too many directions, but a passion for something creates an excitement.

Why do we sometimes feel it is incumbent upon us to live a life of drudgery? Why do we feel that obedience to God means never getting to do what I want. Obedience to God, in my experience, always leads me to exactly what I want. My desires align with God’s desires, and more than anything in life I want to experience the awesome adventure of God.

What I’m saying is, if you are not excited about something in your life enough to feel motivated, why not? What’s the problem?

RESPONSE: Make a decision to pursue what excites you. What is it? Everything in life will not excite you, but you gotta have something that does.

A sense of urgency gets us going. [14:37]

John Kotter, in his book Leading Change, writes of the importance of developing a sense of urgency in a constituency before motivation is present to transform an organization. I believe the same is true of us. Before we can be motivated enough to pursue transformation we have to find a sense of urgency.

I am motivated the most when I feel an urgency about a path or a task. A lot of things stir urgency.

  • A narrow time frame. The opportunity is going to pass if it isn’t seized.
  • The urgency of the mission motivates us. Why is your mission important? Understanding its importance should motivate you.
  • Passion evokes urgency. Have you ever had something in your life that consumed your thinking, consumed your dreaming, almost like an obsession? Something that cries out that begs response? Something that feels as though it will cause us to explode if it is not sated?

As I write this I can feel my heart beating a little faster and my blood pressure rising. It makes me want to kick down the gate and run.

RESPONSE: Why is what you want to do important? Why is it important to do it now?

What Kills my Motivation? [20:20]

We need to avoid the things that strip us of our will to get up and get moving. Negative emotions will not sustain us — they won’t. The Gospel is not about negative emotions, it is about the positivity of redemption and hope.

Negativity kills motivation. 

  • Left behind at Christ’s coming / vs / joyful relationship with Christ
  • Hell / vs / eternity with God
  • I will die if I don’t / vs /  I will live joyfully if I do

I realized that most of the sermons I listened to growing up were directed to immediate response. Somehow I developed a disconnect between ME and the promises of God. They were for someone else.

Separating work from reward kills motivation. [22:47]

If I have nothing to gain from hard work, I won’t work hard. If I reach a commission cap, I’m done.

Bitterness kills motivation. [24:02]

If we are not motivated by passion, we may be motivated by bitterness, which will make it impossible to live joyfully.

Adversity does motivate if it is framed properly. When adversity causes bitterness then we are motivated unproductively.

Calibration Points… Calibrating Our Lives and Lifting Those We Love and Lead [26:37]

#1 We motivate and are motivated through stories.

Stories practically define possibilities. What are the stories from your life that motivate you to the possibilities? What are stories of others who have overcome difficulties to find success? Stories define in a tangible way what is possible.

We motivate and are motivated through attainable goals.

Attainable goals keep us encouraged and moving forward. Set clear, incremental goals that give quick or attainable wins.

#2 Motivation is an Issue of the Heart.

Where does passion and ignition come from? It comes from the revelation of God. I have a life saying: “Get in the Presence of God, a passion will arise, a plan will emerge, and a practice will result.” I listen to the heartbeat of God. I get a sense of what breaks the heart of God. As I pray and listen I get a sense of the injustices in the world that God wants addressed, I get a sense of the mission that he is uniquely stirring in me.

For example, churches put assimilation or connection systems in place. They address a need with a system — which is a good thing. The problem comes when no one has a heart or a passion for the purpose of the system. For instance, we can build a system to connect people to the fellowship, but unless a passion resides in leaders and those doing the follow up, it will not be effective. The first thing we need is to feel and gain a revelation from God as to his heart for disconnected people. This is how a passion stirs within us for any transformational pursuit. We have to have a reason. We have to have a passion. A system has to arise from a passion—that’s where the motivation comes from. Otherwise we are not motivated enough to sustain something difficult.

De-emphasize the system and emphasize the “why”, the passion behind it. Always keep the focus on the passion and not on the system.

#3 Take Inventory of Your Emerging Passions

We must observe the things God is igniting within us. What are your emerging passions? If you understand and identify your emerging passions you will understand where you need to invest your life. You will find the things that motivate you.

  1. When you engage with God and listen, what things do you see or feel that demand your attention. What causes passion to arise within you. That’s why I journal. Write those things down. Over time you will see patterns emerge that will direct your life.
  2. Identify the things emerging in your life that excite you. Write them down. Either you are becoming passionate about the wrong things, or holy passions are emerging within you. Those emerging passions will direct your life. Again, in episode 031 we talked about a time to stay and a time to go, but eventually our emerging passions are actually charting a course for your life. Not every one can spend their life pursuing their passions—but I think I can! It takes work, and it is a journey, but I can! Do not discount the things that bring you JOY, the things that evoke PASSION and EMOTION within you. Those things are indicators.
  3. Look for patterns emerging in your praying, thinking, listening, and journaling times and in your passions. It amazes me how over a period of time you can look at the patterns emerging in your life and draw a road map to your mission.

I am motivated to live the life I want to live, the life God has called me to. For me the two are synonymous. A passion rises up within me with the target of living a joyful life, because I believe God has called us to a joyful life and to promote and encourage others to find and live a joyful life. I am not there yet, but I am definitely on the right path!


Consider the things that motivate you. What is the life path directed by your passions? Are you being properly motivated? Are your passions and motivations leading you to press beyond the tough stuff and experience the JOY of living, leading, and loving.

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