A number of years ago, I made a list of young pastors in America that I thought needed prayer, just like people prayed for me when I was just starting Saddleback Church. Ten years later, as I look back on that list, many of those guys aren’t even in ministry anymore. They flamed out financially, emotionally or morally. They are no longer serving God.
Life is not a 50-yard dash; it is a marathon. I want you to make it to the finish line. The only way to do that is to focus on Jesus, not your circumstances. As Hebrews 12:2 says, “Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish.” To endure the unendurable you must see the invisible – Jesus.
In dog obedience training, they put a dog at one end of a room and its master at the other end of the room, with a plate of food in the middle. And then the master calls the dog. If the dog eyes the food, he’s a goner; he’ll go straight for it. So they teach the dog to focus his eyes on the master. If the dog keeps his eyes on the master, he won’t be tempted. Instead of heading for the food, he’ll head straight to the master.
You need to keep your eyes on your master or you’ll get distracted. Get your mind off your circumstances and your problems and focus on God’s goodness to you in your past, his closeness to you in your present, and his power to help you in your future. Do what Jonah did as he sat in the belly of the great fish: “When I had lost all hope, I turned my thoughts once more to the Lord” (Jonah 2:7 LB).
If you find yourself at a point where you are discouraged in ministry, turn your thoughts to the Lord and focus on him.