Motivation – The Unsung Virtue, part 1


There is a noticeable difference between the motivation of leadership in healthy, growing churches and those stagnant or in decline. This is a painful reality, but a reality all the same: some churches thrive because they care more. Their passion is stronger and they simply work harder at ministry. They aren’t as sloppy. They don’t mail it in. They serve the Lord at or around the freeway speed limit while others slow down traffic. This isn’t to take away from health itself, evangelistic fervor, hospitality, preaching or other things that can play a role. I’m suggesting that often it’s passion for the God’s mission that drives churches to get improve in all these facets.

Growing churches, for instance, are very intentional in cultivating a generosity culture. They understand stewardship’s importance in the lives of their people and the church’s ministry. So, they risk and work at it. Hard. Stagnant and declining churches often mention it seldom and under their breath.

Ministry done right is hard work. Great churches do it. Others don’t.

I can’t tell you how many time one more meeting took the special day from good to great, or exploring one more option led to something fantastic instead of swell. In working with church of all shapes and sizes, I’ve observed a ten percent or more difference in “motivation” between churches thriving and declining. This isn’t to say elbow grease is the key to church growth or health. Not at all. I’m saying a lack of it is usually a contributing factor to decline.

One reason is because it’s so nuanced. I’ve met few truly lazy ministers. I’ve also met very few obsessively driven leaders. Most of us are somewhere between those two extremes intrinsically, and have to manage ourselves to work appropriately (either “pick it up” or “settle down”). We want to work diligently without injuring ourselves or falling victim to pride or self-sufficiency. We do it because God deserves it. In my experience, He uses especially those who honor His Cause with the desire it deserves. However, we have so many ways to cop out on this today, we need to be brutally honest about our efforts.


Dr. Tim Spivey is Pastor of New Vintage Church in Escondido, California. He is the author of numerous articles and one book, "Jesus: The Powerful Servant." A sought after speaker for events, Tim also serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University. Tim serves as a church consultant, and his writings are featured on numerous websites, including:, Church Executive magazine, Faith Village, Sermon Central, and Giving Rocket.

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