…when you put them there yourself. One of the best things you can do for your ministry over time is to choose to challenge yourself. This is especially true of areas of vital importance to congregational life. It will help you keep growing. It will help focus you.

Choosing to challenge oneself is a spiritual discipline of sorts. For a preacher, it might be choosing a particularly difficult message series that will not only bless the church, but also sharpen one’s study and preparation skills. For you, it might be writing a book by a certain date, overhauling the church web site to a certain level of excellence by Easter (if you’re a tech-minister), or entering a time of intense fasting and prayer for your community.

Whatever your ministry in the Kingdom, let me encourage you to choose to challenge yourself every couple of months. Do something that adds intentionality, interest, and focus. Just make sure it’s doable, and concrete. It needs a binding time-frame, and be a goal your are actually excited about accomplishing.

For many people, the reason their fitness goals fizzle is because they aren’t training for anything in particular. They are¬†exercising¬†because they know they are supposed to–it’s good for them. That’s fine–not inspiring, though. If we know we are taking on a major hike or a marathon in 3 months, we train more vigilantly and with greater joy–because we anticipate the payoff. We can see ourselves at the top of the mountain or crossing the finish line. Or, we are afraid of what will happen if we don’t train.

Yes, life will produce challenges on it’s own. But, those aren’t usually welcome and don’t drive us positively. Set doable, concrete ministry challenges for yourself. Set binding time frames to bring accountability (i.e., schedule that sermon series in stone). Aim them at mission and love for God. Then, watch the difference it makes.

Do any of you do this? What are some of the ways you challenge yourself?