Reorienting Momentum

For the past couple days, I’ve been thinking about momentum. It’s awesome when momentum is carrying you in the direction you need to go, right? It seems like everything functions more smoothly, obstacles are obliterated with ease, no problems arise that can’t be dispatched with a little sunshine and rainbows… Ok, maybe that’s taking it a little too far, but that’s what momentum does – it carries us further than we thought we could go.

Or not.

Momentum can just as easily carry us away from  the direction we need to be moving. We can get trapped in the patterns of the mundane or distracted by monotony, and it seems like every movement (if there are any) only takes us deeper into the quicksand. Eventually, we can find ourselves just rolling through each day, slowly giving in to an inertia that sucks the joy out of just about everything.

Since momentum is such a powerful thing, we need to pay attention to it in our lives and ministries. The teams we lead and are a part of will be deeply affected by the internal momentum we are experiencing. Where is your momentum taking you right now? If you are not moving deeper into the heart of God, you won’t be able to sustain any kind of relationship that would help someone else do so. As I examine my own life lately, I think I have been experiencing a lot more of the negative side of momentum. Things seem to be dragging. Some kind of internal inertia makes it more than difficult to roll out of bed every day. Less than ideal circumstances bother me more than they should, and obstacles that shouldn’t be a big deal loom like walls of slate threatening to halt all forward progress. Just to be clear, this is not a healthy place to be in when you’re leading people. It’s bad for the leader, and it’s bad for the people.

I have to admit that sometimes I’ll tend to wallow – to give in and just let the wheels spin without traction. But yesterday, I thought about this guy that just laid around, waiting for someone else to change his momentum. Day after day, he waited. He was stuck. Oh, he had himself in the right place, but every time the right moment came he missed it because the help he was waiting for wasn’t there. Maybe he could have anticipated the moment better… Maybe he needed to be a better friend in order to have the help he needed… Or maybe there was nothing he could do to get himself unstuck… But then God entered the scene with a simple question:

“Do you want to get well?”

Who doesn’t, right? No one really wants to be helpless, do they? The difficulty is, no one else can change your momentum for you. They can change some circumstances, they can maybe even remove some obstacles for you, but the trajectory of your inner life is up to you. And mine is up to me.

“Pick up your mat and walk.”

The question then, is “What am I doing to reorient the momentum of my life?” Jesus miraculously intervened in this guy’s life, but it was still up to him to roll off his backside and and walk upright. He could have stayed there and whined about not having any friends to help him or how far away he was from the water he needed or made any number of excuses that would have made a lot of sense. But instead, he set all the reasons/excuses aside and reoriented the momentum of his life to get into line with where Jesus needed him to go.

Is the momentum of your life carrying you where Jesus is leading you? If not, your momentum needs reoriented. Here are a few things to try:

  • Try something new. Take a class or dig into a study of something that you don’t know anything about. Sometimes, a trickle of new information in our lives can be just what’s needed to get things flowing again.
  • Read something out of your usual genre or topical preference. A couple years ago, our local librarians probably thought I was experiencing some kind of episode of multiple personality disorder. What else could explain a youth minister checking out books of historical fiction, a Tesla biography, running books, business books, a couple Gladwell books…? If your reading list is looking a little too homogenous, mix it up a bit. Don’t limit this to books, either. Explore some new blogs, magazines, trade journals outside your trade, etc.
  • Get moving. Our society is way too sedentary. If your job requires you to spend a lot of time within a few walls or a cubicle (like so many do), make sure you’re doing something to exercise. Your body needs to move.
  • Be still. I know, I just said get moving, but we also need to learn to be still. One of the ironies of my life is that sometimes I’m best at being still when I’m out for a run. Being still doesn’t mean doing nothing – it means a calmness in which God is given every bit of our attention. I’m easily distracted, so just sitting physically still does little to ensure that my attention is directed anywhere in particular. For me, though, the rhythm of a good run can often help me focus and listen.
  • Stop avoiding that confrontation you’ve been dodging. This may be my problem right now. I have issues that are going unresolved because the path to resolution is littered with the possibility of hurt feelings. But as long as I let the elephants hang around, they just keep dumping stuff all over the place, creating a negative momentum all their own – and it stinks.

Try a few of those ideas and see what happens. I will, too. Share your own ideas in the comments below. What are you doing to reorient the momentum of your life?

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