You’ll face many ups and downs in ministry. Just like the earth experiences spring, summer, fall, and winter, we experience different seasons in our ministries. Our personal lives and our churches go through periods of significant growth and excitement. But we also have dry spells.

It’s tempting to quit when these dry spells come. In 50 years of ministry, I’ve certainly been tempted to give up at times.

The key to enduring these dry spells is to respond in faith rather than fear.  

If you’re going through a dry spell right now, remember these seven truths. If you’re in an easier season, store these truths away because one day you will need them.

1. Feelings are unreliable. The Bible warns us not to trust our perceptions (Proverbs 3:5). Feelings come from many sources—chemical imbalances, food you’ve eaten, movies you’ve seen, and so on. We don’t need to listen to everything we think or believe everything we feel. Moods and emotions often lie to us, so we shouldn’t let them control our actions.

Ministry is a mix of bitter and sweet,…

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By Sylvia Chesser, Celebration Place Director of Celebrate Recovery


“For You have been a defense for the helpless,

A defense for the needy in his distress,

A refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat;

For the breath of the ruthless

Is like a rain storm against a wall.” Isaiah 25:4 (NASB1995)

I love thunderstorms… watching the clouds turn dark and start to churn with lightning playing in the shadows is fascinating and exciting to me, and I love the grumbling sounds of the thunder’s chorus.

What I love most is how a storm can change the climate in multiple ways. In some cases, a storm will dramatically lower the current temperature, bringing a cool change to a hot day. Other times, when the storm has run its course, the dampness in the atmosphere causes the heat to feel even more oppressive and sticky. Rain can clean things and make them look shiny and new or cause huge messes if it’s heavy enough. Large storms have been known to knock out power for days and put trees through the roof until people work hard to clean up and set things right.

Rough situations that happen to us or…

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By Sylvia and Stan

Sylvia – I’m a grateful believer in Jesus who struggles with co-dependency, pride, and food issues. I grew up in church but didn’t understand what it meant to have a personal relationship with Christ. My biological father left when I was young, and I used things like food and men to fill a void left by his absence. My mom always said, “Release, let go, and let God,” and while that helped me keep a strong faith in Him, it also kept me from feeling like I needed to do any work on who I was in Him.

Stan – I’m a grateful believer in Jesus, recovered from 25 years of tobacco use, and am in recovery for my trust, anger, and control issues. My dad was a deacon at our church, so we were known as a Christian family; however, having this label came with pressure to live up to certain expectations. As a young adult, I worked in a profession that expected me to move often, and I filled my time with drinking, anger outbursts, and no meaningful relationships. My relationships revolved around others doing what I…

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” canceled the debt, which listed all the rules we failed to follow. He took away that record with its rules and nailed it to the cross.”

Colossians 2:14 (NCV)

You are going to fail in life. That’s a given. Thankfully, you can live free from guilt and learn to move beyond your mistakes.

The Bible is painfully honest about the failures of its heroes. God saved the world from the flood through a man named Noah—yet his story ended in shame. Moses led the children of Israel through the Red Sea and into freedom—yet his anger kept him out of the Promised Land. King David was a man after God’s heart—but he had an affair and murdered the woman’s husband so he wouldn’t be discovered.

God realizes your frailty—and he has a solution for it: grace. If he only used perfect people, the Bible would be a short book. Jesus canceled our debt; he paid for our brokenness when he went to the cross.

God transforms failure into triumph, and he transforms broken lives into trophies of his grace. This is what the world needs; this is what it must be…

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Change is inevitable. During the last few decades, the speed of change in the communities where we serve has grown exponentially. We’ve seen it all around us, including our own communities.

In this quickly changing environment, we want our ministries to be relevant—not so we get invited to speak at conferences or get the praise of our ministry friends, but so that we reach more people for Jesus.

Acts 13:36 is one of my favorite verses. “For David served God’s purposes in his own time, and then he died” (GNT). David did the timeless—God’s purposes—in an ever-changing world. That’s always been my prayer for my life. I want to serve God’s unchanging purposes in my generation.

Our message never changes. God calls us to “contend earnestly for the faith that was once for all time handed down to the saints” (Jude 1:3 NASB). Our mission isn’t to make the Bible relevant. It is already relevant. But the way we communicate the unchanging message of the Bible in today’s changing world can become irrelevant. 

How does irrelevance happen?


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Every leader needs a mentor. 

The Bible tells us to listen to people who are a little further along in the faith and learn from their example. We see the importance of learning from others throughout the Bible—from Jesus, to Paul, to Solomon. 

  • Jesus: “I have given you an example to follow: do as I have done to you” (John 13:15 TLB).
  • Paul: “You became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia” (1 Thessalonians 1:7 NIV).
  • Solomon: “Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success” (Proverbs 15:22 NLT).

One of the most important aspects of ministry is mentoring the next generation of leaders. Any pastor can do this. In fact, there are four specific ways you can help young leaders grow.

  1. Encourage continuous learning.

I’ve told my staff, “All leaders are learners.” You can’t lead without learning. You will never learn everything you need to know about ministry (or any other area…

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God wants us to be free. In fact, this is a major theme throughout Scripture. 

Because Jesus died and rose again, we can have freedom from the prisons that hold us back. Jesus writes in John 8:36, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (NIV).

Here are three ways Jesus wants to give you freedom in your ministry.

1. Freedom from pretending

As pastors, we often worry people will see the real us. People tend to expect perfection from us, and we put on masks to hide who we really are. Social media makes this even worse, pressuring us to appear like we have it all together.

Some of you have been pretending for so long that you don’t even know who the real you is.

One of the reasons we pretend is because we want to please people—our families, our church, or our communities. But Proverbs 29:25 tells us the problem with doing this, “Being afraid of people can get you into trouble” (NCV).

None of us…

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One of my life verses is Proverbs 14:30, “A relaxed attitude lengthens a man’s life” (TLB). I always think about that verse as it relates to the people I lead. 

Ministry carries eternal implications. We need those we lead to last in ministry. We need to make sure they don’t burn out. 

That’s why I’ve always encouraged what I call relaxed concern. That sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s important to the longevity of your ministry team. Relaxed concern means we realize that heaven and hell hang in the balance of what we do, but we also know we can’t live tightly wound all the time. The quickest way to burn out your staff is to never relax. I’ve seen it happen in hundreds of churches. 

I don’t want that to happen to your church. It’s absolutely critical that your team learns to develop a relaxed attitude so ministry doesn’t drain their energy unnecessarily. 

Over four decades of ministry at Saddleback, these seven practices helped to limit burnout.

1. Don’t expect every staff member to work at the…

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It’s easy—and quick—to lose your joy in ministry. One phone call, email, or conversation, and your joy may go out the window. 

But joy in ministry is a serious issue. If my wife or my children were never happy, it would reflect poorly on me. When godly leaders are never happy, it reflects poorly on God. 

Cranky Christians make terrible witnesses. Let your countenance reflect the joy of God within you.

So how can you get your joy in ministry back?

1. Admit you’ve lost it. You can’t recover from what you’ve never lost. This can be tough to admit as a pastor. As a church leader, it’s hard to be honest about your struggles. But you’ll never be able to find your joy unless you admit you don’t have it.

2. Analyze the cause. Look at your life and ministry, and ask yourself: “How did I lose my joy?”

The Bible tells us to do this over and over. “Let us examine our ways and turn back to the Lord” (Lamentations…

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By Michelle

I am a grateful believer in Jesus. I struggle with depression and self-worth, and my name is Michelle.

I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. Put simply, it’s an emotional dysregulation disorder causing me to have unstable moods, behaviors, and relationships. This affected my ability to do schoolwork, social life, and self-esteem.

As a teenager, I was deemed overdramatic, but my problems were all-consuming, and I couldn’t figure out how to handle them. I was suffering from severe depression and anxiety and began self-harming. My problems didn’t get any better with a diagnosis.

I had to figure out how to live with my problems and handle day-to-day life. My bad habits were running from my problems, ignoring them, and distracting myself because I didn’t want to deal with reality. My life was completely unmanageable. I got overwhelmed easily and was overtaken by my depression; doing tasks like going into grocery stores alone gave me such anxiety that I would avoid it at all costs, and all my relationships were extremely unhealthy. It was my extreme lack of self-worth that was my major issue.

I deemed myself unlovable. I allowed myself to be used and…

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By Mary Owen, National Training Director

“The Spirit God gave us does not make us afraid. His Spirit is a source of power and love and self-control.”

2 Timothy 1:7 (ERV)

We all, at some point, have felt powerless . . . You may even be feeling powerless today. In that Bible verse I just read, it says our source of power comes from God. If we’re not plugged into His power, there IS reason to be afraid. But, when we’re plugged into God, He supplies us with all we need: HIS power, love, and self-control.

It’s God’s triple power surge!! The very three things we need in order to be wise, healthy, and have peace in our hearts, no matter what circumstances we’re going through.


  • I need God’s power to break unhealthy habits I can’t break on my own.
  • I need His power to do what I know is right but can’t seem to do it in my own strength.
  • I need His power to break free from the past and not let those memories hold me in bondage anymore.
  • I need His power to live the new life He…

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“The tongue is a small thing, but what enormous damage it can do. A great forest can be set on fire by one tiny spark. The tongue . . . can turn our whole lives into a blazing flame of destruction and disaster.”

James 3:5-6 (TLB)

When we don’t have self-control in our life, we’re vulnerable to all kinds of problems.

Anything out of control in your life can harm other people and damage your close relationships. Uncontrolled anger, addiction, spending, or ambition can create enormous problems. But the greatest destroyer of relationships is an uncontrolled tongue.

The average person has 30 conversations a day. That means you will spend one-fifth of your life talking. At some point, your mouth will probably get you into trouble.

James compares the tongue to a tiny spark because that’s all that is needed to create a great forest fire. A careless word can ignite your relationships and make them all go up in smoke.

Have you ever met a verbal arsonist?

Their words are dangerous. They use words of discouragement and criticism. Gossip is especially destructive because it spreads like an airborne virus. Careless words have destroyed…

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