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How to Spark, Strengthen and Sustain Momentum

Momentum is the force or speed of movement.  It is the impetus, moving force, or stimulus of a physical object or course of events.  It is the cause of motion that incites to action, feeling or thought.  In sports, it is said that a team has gained momentum when they have found their rhythm of success in a game and the force of their victory appears unstoppable. 

In the context of ministry and organizational leadership, momentum is a critical component of success necessary for continued forward trajectory.  If you are going to experience success as a leader than it is imperative that you are intentional about cultivating and maintaining momentum.  Very often the kind of oversight that we provide to our teams can either strengthen or hinder the momentum of which we are desirous. 

I would argue that one of the great case studies of momentum in the Bible is found in the “Classic Book of Leadership” Nehemiah.  In Chapter 6 it indicates that he and his group were able to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and its gates within 52 days.  You can only pull that off when you have a sense of mission, a sense of morale, and you have the manpower.  Mission, morale, and manpower increases your momentum.  What normally would have taken much longer to complete was accomplished in 52 days.  I argue that oftentimes in church it takes us a lifetime to get stuff done and more often than not it can be attributed to a low momentum capacity.  There is a lack of morale, a lack of clarity regarding the mission, and a lack of competent manpower which inevitably diminishes our momentum.  I have seen churches that have been in building programs for decades who have never built anything.  More often than not it is due to a lack of momentum. 


I am going to utilize the Book of Nehemiah as the Biblical backdrop to identify at least ten (10) momentum game changers.  We will juxtapose two elements to bear out the idea of variables that can positively or negatively impact momentum.

10 Momentum Game Changers

  1. Vagrant Leadership vs Visionary Leadership
    1. Visionary Leadership - a mental picture of your preferable future based upon an accurate understanding of God yourself, and your circumstances. Visionary leadership is always looking ahead.  It does not get caught up in the weeds of now, but rather it sees the green pastures of the future.  
    2. Vagrant Leadership – Misdirected and aimless leadership. No clear direction. It is hard to have momentum when there is no clear vision.  When there is no sense of us transitioning to a place that is better than what was or is it is hard to gain or sustain momentum.  You have motion but not any significant activity.  
  2. Rearview Perspective (past-focused) vs Windshield Perspective (future-focused)
    1. In chapter 3 of the Book of Ezra an interesting narrative takes place. It parallels the conversation that we are having with many of our millennials.  The Temple had been knocked down and totally destroyed and the text makes mention that they are now rebuilding a new temple.  Solomon’s Temple is gone and there is a new temple that is on the horizon.  Watch what happens among the two clashing generations.  The text makes mention that the ancient generation that recalls Solomon’s Temple were weeping because they recall the former glory.  The younger generation, however, is rejoicing because they see the foundation of a new temple emerging.  The temple isn’t even up yet and they are rejoicing over the hope and the possibility that is represented by the foundation of a new temple.  The Bible says that there was a sound that emanated from the room that was a confusing sound because the two sounds of the generations were clashing.  The older generation (rearview perspective) was weeping while the new generation was rejoicing (windshield perspective).  As hard as it was to embrace the old temple (glory) was gone….but God promised the new glory would outshine the former glory.  Some individuals are addicted to the past.  The good old days are gone…don’t miss the opportunity to embrace the fresh and new of now.  Share what is valuable from the past and move forward.  You don’t drive looking out the rearview mirror.  You glance briefly for perspective and you forge ahead.  Take the values learned from the past and carry them forward into the new possibilities of the future.   
  3. Me (individualistic) vs We (collaborative) – Nehemiah recognized from the outset that he could not rebuild the wall alone. He identifies people that can go on the journey with him.  Progress comes with collaboration.  The IQ of a team will always exceed the IQ of an individual.  You intensify your momentum when you learn how to work collaboratively.  The church is challenged with working in silos as opposed to collaboratively.  Regardless of what portion of the wall you are working on it connects to the whole.  We are all connected.  When we learn how to work collaboratively we have momentum. 
    1. Me – Individualistic
    2. We – Collaborative
  4. A Critical Attitude vs A Constructive Attitude -
    1. Critical Attitude kills morale. It judges severely with the goal of fault-finding.  It is the obsessive attitude designed to tear down.  In the story of Nehemiah, Tobias, Sanballat and Geshem were critical of and oppositional to the rebuilding efforts.  They made such harsh assertions that “if a fox were to walk on top of the wall it would knock it down”.  The critical spirit in them was designed to diminish the morale of Nehemiah and his men and ultimately eat away at their momentum.  Remember morale is an integral component of momentum and if Nehemiah and his men’s morale could be diminished then their momentum would be impeded. 
    2. Elements of critical attitude
      1. Indifference and negativity
      2. Insecurity – can’t be around persons who they might perceive to be a threat
  • Immaturity - Doesn’t take much creativity to come up with problems. Solution strategists identify and resolve issues.
    1. How can I earn more? Learn how to solve more problems. Your earning is determined by your ability to resolve problems (learning).
  1. A mind that is not renewed
  2. Full of the Devil
  1. An Unimaginative Attitude vs Imaginative Attitude– Unleash the creative genius inside of you. Created in the image of God implies that there is an element of creativity inside of us.  Unimaginative thinking is the status quo.  Think beyond the norm.  I can imagine when Nehemiah walked around the walls of Jerusalem in its dilapidated condition that he had a vision of what it could look like.  He indicated that the state of rubbish was a reproach against God, but he is only able to say that because he had a mental picture of what it would look like repaired.  The issue with Sears Roebuck is that they couldn’t imagine themselves beyond the catalog.  When Walmart entered the scene and came up with these superstores where you could get just about anything onsite it created problems for Sears.  Now you have Amazon on the scene, who instead of building supercenters have created distribution centers whereby you can order what you need online and via Amazon Prime you can have it home delivered the same day.  Being on the creative side of change is essential if we are to galvanize and operate in momentum.  We deny our God-given ability when we deny being creative. 
  2. Passionless vs Passion– Passion is when you are energetic and driven about what you are doing. Nehemiah had a burden (passion) brought forth by a cause (rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem).  He was driven with passion.  Now if we juxtapose Nehemiah’s passion and devotion against someone who is passionless and devoid of heart toward anything it will demonstrate how a passionless disposition and attitude can suffocate momentum.  Apathy and emotionless divestment will kill momentum.  We must be excited and passionate about what we do.  As leaders we set the thermostat. We must engage those we lead passionately in order to optimize momentum! 
  3. Duplicity (lack of character) vs Integrity (forthrightness) – We must be people of character as opposed to living in hypocrisy. You lose momentum when you don’t conduct yourself with integrity and character.  As a side note you lose momentum when you are self-righteous.
  4. Cluttered Life vs Uncluttered Life – Organization and systematic structure are essential for momentum and success. Before building on a site all of the debris and rubbish must be removed.  You can’t build upon a foundation that is cluttered.  Clutter will cause disruption and lack of success.  Loss of time and resources are the byproducts of clutter.  When you have a cluttered existence you lose momentum. 
  5. Ingratitude vs Gratitude– Those who drink water must remember those who dug the well (Chinese proverb). You optimize momentum when you are thankful to those who serve with you.  A simple thank you can maximize progress.  People are motivated to do things for you when you are grateful.  At the conclusion of the building project Nehemiah gave praise!  
  6. Indecisive vs Decisive– The ability to make decisions is critical for momentum. Anyone can come up with an idea, but can make a decision to execute that idea.  Indecision will leave you stuck in the quicksand of deliberation.  At some point you must make a decision.

As leaders we greatly influence the momentum of our teams primarily by the way we give oversight to the mission, morale, and manpower that have been entrusted to us.  When we properly steward those variables we are rewarded with increased capacity, productivity, and momentum from our teams.  Let’s be intentional today in maximizing momentum!

Read 707 times Last modified on Monday, 14 August 2017 08:16

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  • Katherine Morrison posted by Katherine Morrison Tuesday, 08 August 2017 22:15

    Motivation in Management is the process through which managers encourage employees to be productive and effective. Employees who are adequately motivated to perform will be more productive, more engaged and feel more invested in their work activity. When employees feel these things, it helps them, and thereby their managers and organization be more successful. Thank you!

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  • Regina posted by Regina Monday, 07 August 2017 20:34

    Thank you Pastor for this very practical insight on the "Momentum Game Changers"! Thanks for ALL that you do!

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  • Erica Forte posted by Erica Forte Monday, 07 August 2017 17:27

    Awesome read Dr. Oliver! A biblical outline on how to approach leadership is definitely what I got out of this amongst other things.

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