Pushing Past 'Meh'
Have you ever just checked out before? You had so many big plans and can feel you're destined for more, but you still leave those things on the back-burner. After all, you can't really complain. You're doing alright by most standards, but you still want more. And not selfishly nor for personal gain. You want to do more for Him.
Firstly, congratulations! You're amazing. Everyone doesn't have a calling of servant leadership like the one you're experiencing at this present stage in your life. But what to do with it? I've been there before. Yes, right where you are, in your very shoes. Well, not in your exact shoes, but you get the analogy. Here are few strategies that helped renew my energy and how I learned (and am learning) to cope in my 'meh' season.
Be content, not complacent.
Let's cover the basics. Gratitude is fundamental in positioning yourself for more and there's a difference between being complacent and content. One of my favorite scriptures, which I reference quite often (especially when I get those dating/marriage/children questions), is Philippians 4: 11-12. Here, Paul is speaking to the believers in Philippi expressing his appreciation and love for them. They were not in a time of crisis nor war, so Paul's message was speaking directly to finding and living out the joy and faith in their lives:
When you're content, you remain grateful for present stage of your life while readily preparing yourself for the future one God is sending your way. But how do we prepare ourselves?
To start, work on becoming more self aware. I've been to quite a few workshops that discussed the Johari window. It's a tool that helps identify the cross sections of what your peers may/may not know about you vs. what you may/may not know about yourself. It's a great exercise to strengthen self-awareness and reveal areas of growth that may need to be address before the next step. It's a great activity to engage in with the people closest to you.
In my 'eh' season, I found myself rehashing past conflicts or difficulties and figuring out ways I could have better responded. Identifying my own human error as not to fault in the same area again. We have to develop a habit of reflecting on our behaviors and how they may be interpreted/received by others. It doesn't come naturally so the more time you spend developing this skill, the closer you become to getting back in your groove in every part of your life.
Try something new... by yourself.
Cliche, I know. Even if you have your dream job, I'm pretty sure it consists of variability within your work, making it an evolving career and less of a job. When you get in a rut you have quickly find ways to reinvent your strategy as to not throw an option completely out of the window. Sometimes all we really need is shake things up a bit.
Attending service projects or activities in groups is a great idea. It fosters a wonderful spirit of comradery and strengthens relationships. However, I have to say the most memorable experiences for me came from going to a service event where I knew no one. Or venturing out to an event or activity by myself. It was a bit uncomfortable at times (all the time), especially being the introvert that I am. Although, people still don't believe I'm an introvert, but it's true! In short, introverts can be very open and friendly. They just have to reboot after prolonged social interactions where as extroverts are energized by them. Back on topic...
When you meet new people and try new things you're introducing yourself to a new part of you. How you interact in these situations or with individuals can vary drastically depending on the area of your life they function in. Whether at your job, in church or just in your circle of friends, seek to build new connections and expand your network. You never know what opportunities they might bring.
Which leads into the next suggestion...
Connect with someone new in a meaningful way.
In order to figure out what it is that you're really passionate about, you have to be open to different causes. It's okay if your haven't know since you were three years-old what you want to do with your life. Talk to new people and learn about what they're driven by and why.
I work at a pretty amazing place with pretty amazing folks. Pretty amazing, right? At work, I try to schedule at least 3 meetings a month with people who operate in a different role than I do. When we meet, we talk about work, but mostly about what led them to their current position and how long they want to stay in that role (if they even want to leave). Focusing on the 'why' over the 'what' has helped narrow down how it will feel when I land where I belong.
This applies to personal and spiritual purpose too! Talk to other passionate ministers and couples to learn what keeps them dedicated. And by 'minister,' I'm not referring solely to the formal title of the ordained, but anyone who works diligently in any capacity at your church. Make a list of what overlaps in all of their experiences and look for those type of reactions in your life as confirmation.
It's okay if you change your mind.
Maybe you were pushed in a lot of different directions and were still left feeling like there had to be more. Those experiences you had were great (even if they were bad) because although you might not have necessarily enjoyed them, you learned from them. It's still just as importance to figure out what you're not interested in as what you are. If your efforts in a particular area seem to be shifting or if you just want to try something new, go for it! Don't be so hard on yourself when you grow out of a passion or ministry, especially if you helped others in the process. Those lives were still touched because of the work you did and their will be new ones to reach in your new stage of life. The most crucial point is that you grow out of it; not abandon it.
And lastly, you can choose to remain fluid.
The 'Meh' season's not so bad when you think about it. You can pick up new hobbies, explore new interests and push yourself in different areas of your life. There's something dignifying to be said about someone who is sensitive to the needs of any particular group at any given time. If your circle of influence isn't large, then you're especially helpful if you can remain flexible and a servant to those around you whether in church, school or work. We all juggle multiple responsibilities driven by different motivations, but be sure to focus on doing your select few well. Make sure that you're not overloading yourself with responsibility and aiming to nail the trickiest part of it all-- maintaining balance in you life.