Yikes! Motivation Doesn’t Last!

By John Pearson

Zig Ziglar: “People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing—that’s why we recommend it daily.”

So what motivates the men and women who serve on your board? And is your ongoing motivation adequate? (Is it daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or never?)

Three ideas:

Motivation Idea #1: Check Motivation Temperatures Often! Perhaps Jennifer joined your board for one reason, but three years later that original motivation is inadequate to keep your ministry on the front burner of her heart and passions. So keep taking the motivation temperatures of each board member. One size doesn’t fit all—and you’ll need to creatively assess how to inspire and bless each individual board member. How? Ask!

Motivation Idea #2: Motivation Is About Serving God—Not You! According to Al Newell, co-founder of High Impact Volunteer Ministry Development:

“Sustaining motivation is better understood as a by-product as opposed to a goal of itself. It is my experience that if you pursue discipleship with volunteers, motivation will follow. If volunteers see the fulfillment of their role as ‘obeying and serving God’ rather than serving you or your organization, it will cause motivation to swell.”

Just today in a phone conversation about what motivates board members, Terry Stokesbary, senior program director at M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, shared this truth with me:

“Souls must be nurtured.”

Motivation Idea #3: Share Good News Generously. If your board meets just two to four times a year, don’t rely on those meetings alone for motivation to swell. Instead, many CEOs send their boards a monthly update. The “CEO’s 5/15 Monthly Update to the Board” is an easy-to-use template that takes about 15 minutes to write and about five minutes for a board member to read. The template includes space for an encouraging and motivating ministry story. (Pat Clements, president of Church Extension Plan, when chairing the board of what is now Christian Leadership Alliance, shared this brilliant concept with me.)

Honest! Just today, another CEO began using this 5/15 template and he emailed the good news to me. That motivated me!

QUESTION: What should our board chair, our executive committee members, and our CEO do, religiously, to sustain the healthy motivation of all board members?


This article was originally posted on the “Governance of Christ-Centered Organizations” blog, hosted by ECFA.
John Pearson, a board governance consultant and author, was ECFA’s governance blogger from 2011 to 2020.
© 2021, ECFA and John Pearson. All rights reserved.


This text is provided with the understanding that ECFA is not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from an accountant, lawyer, or other professional.