I can still hear my football coach saying it: “You play until the whistle blows.” If loafing at practice or caught in a game taking a play off, a player would hear something similar. Often coaches chose to add some choice words in there, but essentially they are always saying the same thing. The play is not over until it’s over. You know it’s over when the referee blows their whistle.

Simple, right?

Not so much. You get tired. You feel like your part does not matter. You don’t get the attention you think you deserve. You lose focus. It gets monotonous. So you take a play off.

I’m not just talking about football. This is true in ministry. We take plays off. We miss opportunities. We “kinda” prepare for that talk. We settle to get things done. We get tired of the same thing each week and dial it in and just get by.

Recently I talked with a student pastor experiencing that. His energy had tapped out. His motivation had waned. He knew he was not giving it his all, but frankly needed some encouragement.

How do you fix that?

It’s not easy, but there are some things you can do to keep playing until the whistle blows.

Focus on the end game. What you do now matters for later. Relational ministry (especially with students) is rarely tangible. But He is the grower, and our job is to plant well and trust Him. In the end, the victory is His.

Remember who you are playing for. He knows. He is with you. Your service matters to the Kingdom of forever. Reset your perspective.

Your value can’t come from man alone. Seek to sink your identity in the One who rescued you and gave you a new name. You are His son or daughter. Work from there.

Celebrate regularly. Choose to celebrate anything pointing to your vision and mission that is being accomplished or developed.

Trust relentlessly. Even when it does not make sense.

Be you. Kick comparison aside and focus on faithfulness. You’ll find freedom in your spirit there.

No matter where you are in your ministry, until He calls you home, the whistle has not blown yet. Don’t be discouraged in doing good. Praying that you serve well until the whistle blows.