How to Get Excited About Your Work Again

The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

Matthew 8:25-27

Do you remember the first time you were driving and said something like, “That kid’s not old enough to drive”? On the other hand, do you remember what it was like to be that first-time driver (who might have heard many people honking at them)? Those moments later in life show growth, maturity, and probably just plain agitation at a younger generation. What fascinates me is what takes us from the first moment of excitement that becomes the drag of duty. What makes the inspirational become drudgery? What causes us to forsake our first love?

I have a theory that we tend have circular movement. There are seasons, rotations, and “sweet spots” we come back to again and again.

All good things–all things that matter–are circular. For example, I found a notebook from when I was about 12 years old. I hadn’t looked at it forever, so I forgot what it was. It ended up being a summary or a lesson of Bible passages that I was reading daily. I used to (and still) read the Bible all the way through, sometimes in a year, one passage at a time. For me, it’s the habit that counts.

And that habit has come back around in a full circle.

In addition, what I found so fascinating about the notebook is that it’s exactly what I do in these blogs. Read a passage, reflect on it, and then write about it. Writing, or journaling, helps to evaluate experience, and John Maxwell states that evaluated experience is more valuable than just experience. Writing also helps keep the lesson more ingrained and therefore more lived out than if I just heard or read it and did nothing about it (see James 1:23).

A page from a notebook of Bible lessons from circa 1995

The older I get, and the more I reflect, the more I see myself living out what I was as a child. Yet, I’m not always thrilled about finding a pen and writing what I’m learning. It’s not always what gets me going in the morning. What I forget are the excitement and inspiration. I’ve been hardened by the years of expectations, of “been there, done that,” and of judging others who are just beginning.

Do you remember that initial spark of something grand? It’s like when the disciples saw Jesus calm the waves. They were like, “Did you see that? This guy is legit!” And they didn’t even see the big miracles yet—the ones that would blow their minds. I suppose the disciples had their moments of “ho-hums,” especially after Jesus was no longer on the planet. That’s why there’s so much encouragement in the New Testament; Because initial sparks can die down and keeping the flame alive takes work. Sometimes a wintery season of stillness is okay if the spring blooming is on the way.

If you are feeling like you’re in the drag of duty and going through the motions, try some of these possibilities:

  • Write down what sparked it all. What did you feel then, and what have you learned since then?
  • Review what you had journaled during those first days of excitement or talk to someone who had been core to the beginning.
  • Give yourself grace if you are in a season of growth or pausing. What is that thing that you are looking forward to, and how can you take one step toward that today?
  • Let Jesus know how you are feeling and ask for a bit of direction.
  • Remember the days when you couldn’t wait to get out of bed to tackle the day. You’ll remember how Jesus had just calmed the sea, but it took your breath away.
  • Discover the habits that came from those beginning moments, how you’ve come to depend on Jesus for the minor miracles while you seek out the major miracles.

If you are a nonprofit leader, or volunteer, or a community member (I think that covers us all!), there will be moments of boredom. But, with Jesus, you will find the motivation to keep going just like in the early days.

What do you do to get excited about work again? Share it on Facebook @HopelesslyHopefulBooks. https://www.facebook.com/HopelesslyHopefulBooks

Pre-order Hopelessly Hopeful During Separation, a 28-day devotional for people who are separated from their spouse because of marital struggles, before September 28, 2021. A pre-order helps make the book more visible on September 28. Thanks!!

Photos by Mollie Bond

© 2021, Mollie Bond. All rights reserved. Originally published at www.molliebond.org.

Prioritizing Sleep

Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.

1 Peter 1:13

“Sleep is for the weak” I’d say all the time in college. Somehow I thought I could handle taking more credits than the “average” student. I could work more odd jobs than the “average” student. I could even have more networking opportunities than the “average” student. I worked hard to get ahead, and my pride grew with it.

Then, I got older. My need to achieve overcame my common sense and I cut as much sleep as I could so that I could squeeze one more good thing into my life. I still had the same habits and the same motivations—being better than “average.”

I also noticed another trend. The first prayer of the morning was, “Jesus, get me through the day, I’m so tired.” And I also noticed that each journal entry started with, “I’m tired. Grant me energy.” I drank more coffee, worked out harder, but didn’t pay attention to my sleep. My health suffered despite the exercise and upstanding (dare I say, “better than average”) diet.

I read Arianna Huffington’s “The Sleep Revolution” and it taught me about the serious issues a lack of sleep causes. It’s not just that you feel tired, it’s that you aren’t at your best. You aren’t alert and can’t relax on the couch of hope and grace. Striving, pushing, trying to be better than average; It can literally kill you if you’re not sleeping well.

For me, I read this verse and get caught on the words “alert and fully sober.” Fully alert to me means getting enough rest and sleep. It took me years to get to a place of health so that I can have a mind that is fully alert. Teetering on the edge of burnout, in 2013 I was involved in 9 different organizations, mostly on their leadership teams. I cut that back to 4 organizations. I had 20 goals to pursue (from not drinking caffeine to publishing a book). I cut those down to 5 goals. (I’ve heard that it’s best to have 3-5 goals, with 3 being on the better end of the spectrum.) I read a lot about simplification. I didn’t use Sundays as chore day, but instead made it relationship day or a chance to enjoy some good books.

Today, I’m learning even more about sleep. I’ve learned about the HRV (heart rate variability), which is not the total beats your heart takes per minute, but the consistency of the pauses between beats. The higher the HRV, the higher your energy level. What I’ve found so fascinating is that there’s no quick hack to up your HRV. What has changed my score is literally how I treat myself the previous day. And, catch this, it’s the whole day—not just the 30 minutes before I go to bed. If I am kind to myself and live in a place of hope and grace, I find that my HRV (and therefore my energy) is high the next day because I get good rest. If I find that I live in a place of stress and striving, my HRV is low during the night and I’m a wreck the next day—not at all fully alert or sober minded.

In my book (coming out Sept. 28), I talk about the importance of the basics of life. Sleep is one of those basics. Nonprofit leaders, are you setting the example for others by paying attention to the basics of your own life? How is your sleep?

What do you do to help you fall asleep? Share it on Facebook @HopelesslyHopefulBooks. https://www.facebook.com/HopelesslyHopefulBooks

Pre-order Hopelessly Hopeful During Separation, a 28-day devotional for people who are separated from their spouse because of marital struggles, before September 28, 2021. A pre-order helps make the book more visible on September 28. Thanks!!

Photo by Egor Vikhrev on Unsplash

© 2021, Mollie Bond. All rights reserved. Originally published at www.molliebond.org.

Monkeys, Ants, and Gratitude

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil….always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 5:15-16, 20

My aunt is not really my aunt. She is the sister of the woman my uncle married, which makes us completely unrelated. Still, I call her aunt, and she is a mentor to me. She introduced me to the concept of the monkeys in an article from Harvard Business Review.

It’s easy and sometimes even desirable to be wanted, needed, and even honored to be asked to do something at work. “Leave it with me.” These four words can feel so good when you say them, but as Mike Clayton says in this video, it adds one more monkey to your desk. Someone asks for your advice and instead you do it for them. This adds one more task (monkey) before the important priorities you may have wanted to work on and complete.

If you don’t have monkeys on your desk, you may have ants. Actually, it’s referred to as the “aunt trap” at Manager Tools. It means one of your boss’s peer ask you to do something but forgets to inform your boss. Usually, the project pulls you away from the priorities your boss set for you. Sometimes it’s referred to the uncle trap, but it’s not just something men do—we all tend to do push monkeys around as we get into progressively difficult and expanding roles.

Whether you have an aunt problem or your aunt introduces you to the monkey problem, there are plenty of people who used those four words “leave it with me” and lived unwisely.

I didn’t see why I shouldn’t say “leave it with me” for years. I used to think that making the most of every opportunity meant doing it all. I wanted to prove I was a valuable hire, that I could do whatever was handed to me, and that I could do it all right now right away. It’s taken a few burnouts, stray monkeys, and some ants crawling around my desk to learn that I’m not to do it all—I’m to live wisely. I’ve learned that the most wisest way to live may mean saying no so I can focus on what God has asked me to do.

What I love so much about this passage is that the paragraph ends with thankfulness. It’s hard to skirt around monkeys with gratitude. It’s much easier to be thankful for teammates, for growth, and for opportunities that make sense with the role and calling God has given me the privilege to live out. Living wisely makes me genuinely grateful, not fake grateful. And, it removes monkeys, too.

If you have an aunt problem or some monkeys on your desk, Mike Clayton recommends four next steps:

  1. Identify with the person the problem (the what)
  2. Identify with the person the owner (the who)
  3. Identify with the person the next steps and the authority to act (the how)
  4. Identify with the person a time to check in (the what if)

Do you have a way you deal with monkeys or ants? Share it on Facebook @HopelesslyHopefulBooks. https://www.facebook.com/HopelesslyHopefulBooks

Pre-order Hopelessly Hopeful During Separation, a 28-day devotional for people who are separated from their spouse because of marital struggles, before September 28, 2021. A pre-order helps make the book more visible on September 28. Thanks!!

Photo by Norbert Levajsics on Unsplash

© 2021, Mollie Bond. All rights reserved. Originally published at www.molliebond.org.

Do You Know What You Want?

What do you want me to do for you?

Mark 10:51

What’s the question? You know, the question. The one that Jesus is asking. The one you know the answer to but can’t quite formulate the words.

Jesus asks a lot of questions. He asks rhetorical questions, but also ones that he expected an answer to as well. For example:

  • “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” John 6:5
  • “Woman, why do you involve me?” John 2:4
  • “What do you want me to do for you?” Mark 10:51
  • “Do you see anything?” Mark 8:23

And these are just a few of the questions he asks.

Challenged by the Bible and a few people in my life, I’ve spent a few years trying to determine exactly what I want. How would I answer Jesus if he were to ask, “What do you want?”

I can’t answer.

Perhaps you can relate to my reasoning. First, I find that it is easier to say, “Whatever you want” rather than truly do the work to discover my desires. Plus, I remember that verse that says the heart is deceptive (Jeremiah 17:9). Still, Psalm 37:4 teaches us that if we set our desires on Him, He will give us what we want.

So, back to the question. What do you want? How would you answer?

Here are some responses to Jesus’ questions:

  • “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” John 6:5
    • “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish” John 6:9
      • This is the feeding of the multitudes. It teaches me that God doesn’t waste imperfect small offerings.
  • “Woman, why do you involve me?” John 2:4
    • “Do whatever he tells you.” John 2:5
      • This is the story of water turned into wine. It teaches me that if I am willing to do what he asks, God delivers the best.
  • “What do you want me to do for you?” Mark 10:51
    • “Rabbi, I want to see.” Mark 10:51
      • This is the story of blind Bartimaeus. Healing is available to those who call out to Jesus.
  • “Do you see anything?” Mark 8:23
    • “I see people; they look like trees walking around.” Mark 8:24
      • This is the story of Jesus helping a man to see by putting mud on his eyes. Sometimes a vision is blurry until Jesus deems you ready.

Jesus is waiting to hear your answer. Listen for Jesus to ask the question: What do you want?

I’ll tell you what I want; I want to share about my upcoming book! Ambassador International is printing Hopelessly Hopeful During Separation, a 28-day devotional for people who are separated from their spouse because of marital struggles, before September 28, 2021. A pre-order helps make the book more visible on September 28. Thanks!!

Photo by Ilkka Kärkkäinen on Unsplash

© 2021, Mollie Bond. All rights reserved. Originally published at www.molliebond.org.

Donor Fatigue and The Comparison Trap

When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”

Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”

John 21:21-23

The speaker asked in a training session, “When was the last time a donor said, ‘I can’t donate because I’m tired of giving? Oftentimes, when we hear of donor fatigue, it’s other nonprofits providing an excuse. To avoid joining this groupthink, don’t compare your donors to other nonprofit donors…get to know them for who they are and invest in them in the way they would appreciate.”

It was a shift for me to think about donor fatigue and the comparison trap. Donor fatigue is defined by the Oxford Languages as “a lessening of public willingness to respond generously to charitable appeals, resulting from the frequency of such appeals.” As one always learning more about the nonprofit sector, I devour a few blogs and articles a week, listen to podcasts and webinars, and talk to other nonprofit leaders. And yet, I know that I do those things more than the simple notion of talking to the people in the nonprofit I serve—our clients, staff, and donors. Have I assumed that our donors are fatigued about hearing successes or engaging with our stories of need, or have I compared donors who love my nonprofit to the donors of nonprofits around me?

Jesus knew about the comparison trap. He knew that people would base their experience of Himself on what others had experienced—not what was going on between that person and Himself. After He rose, never to die again, Jesus gave Peter a sneak peek into the future. And those around Peter and Jesus immediately started guessing and comparing. Jesus squashed that thinking quickly by saying, “What I’ve shared is between the two of us, and there’s no need to compare your situation to that of Peter. Keep focused on what I’ve asked you to do, and don’t worry about those around you.

Can you think of a recent situation where you fell into the comparison trap? Was it about donor fatigue or a program success or even the next steps you should take? Listen to Jesus. What is He saying?

If you have remembered a situation where you were caught in a comparison trap and escaped, like this post and then share your encouragement on Facebook @HopelesslyHopefulBooks. https://www.facebook.com/HopelesslyHopefulBooks

Pre-order Hopelessly Hopeful During Separation, a 28-day devotional for people who are separated from their spouse because of marital struggles, before September 28, 2021. A pre-order helps make the book more visible on September 28. Thanks!!

Photo by Kseniia Samoylenko on Unsplash

© 2021, Mollie Bond. All rights reserved. Originally published at www.molliebond.org.