March marks a year of COVID-19. Who knew?? As a pastor, If you have discovered that your motivation has taken a vacation and left you behind, you are not alone. Many clergy are tired and weary of COVID 19, even if a vaccine has become available to more people. To rediscover your motivation, try becoming a NOMAD. NOMAD stands for “NOvelty-related motivation of anticipation and exploration by dopamine.” In a NOMAD research study by Düzel and associates, mice brain activity fired up when presented with novel stimuli. Now, we are not mice, but we can learn from this study. To coax your motivation back to work, implement small changes into your day, each day. In other words, give your brain something to anticipate!
“Look! I’m doing a new thing; now it sprouts up; don’t you recognize it?” (Isaiah 43:19 NIV)
- What “new thing” is God doing? We know that our God is on the move. Our part of it is to have eyes to see or sense the movement of God. Each day set a spiritual goal to be on the “lookout” for where the wind of the Spirit is blowing in your life, your family, your neighborhood, your blog, or your congregation. Where in your life today do you see God’s movement?
- What SMART goal can you set? SMART is an acronym that means your goal is “specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely.” Lost your zest for running? Try setting a SMART goal for walking instead. Or try taking a different route. Your “smart” goal is to find small ways to change your routine, to create novelty. What is at least one SMART goal you can set for your life or ministry today?
- Who might become a NOMAD partner? We are made for connection, but the pandemic has greatly disrupted our typical ways and frequency of connecting. Maybe you can find a NOMAD partner under your own roof or within your congregation or in your neighborhood. Together you can anticipate what “new things” God is going to be doing in your lives. “And let us consider each other carefully for the purpose of sparking love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:24) Who can you identify as a NOMAD partner for relational connection?
- Where can you “shake up” your daily routine? If you work on a laptop, try finding a new location to work. Or set aside a few minutes to enjoy reading a few pages from a book that has been on your bookshelf “just waiting” to be read as a reward. If reading isn’t your jam, find a reward that you can joyfully anticipate during your work day. What part of your day can you change up with something new to anticipate?
- What Scripture verses inspire you? You may have found that your personal devotional life has taken a nosedive during the pandemic and finding it a challenge to get back into the routine. Instead of guilting or shaming yourself, try picking one book of the Bible to be your focus. Earnestly anticipate what new thing God may say to you in a verse or a paragraph or even a chapter. Then write it down so that you can prayerfully reflect on the goodness of God in the midst of uncertain times. “Certainly the faithful love of the LORD hasn’t ended. Certainly God’s compassion isn’t through! They are renewed every morning. Great is your faithfulness…” (Lamentations 3:22-23) What scripture passages are you drawn to at this time?
To learn more, see the following resources:
- Calvin Lee, “Expanding motivation through neuroscience during COVID-19.” Counseling Today, January 2021, pp. 12-15.
- Christian Motivation During the Tough Times
- Beata Sounders, What is motivation? A Psychologist Explains.
Emotional contributor: Virginia T. Holeman, PhD., LMFT, LPCC, Retired Chair of the Department of Counseling and Pastoral Care, Asbury Theological Seminary
Executive editor: Russ Gunsalus
Curator of content: Dave Higle