Good news for discouraged pastors
Discouragement is universal. Everyone gets it from time to time, even those of us in ministry.
Maybe you’re going through a relationship struggle. Maybe you’re having a tough time seeing where God is at work in your ministry.
Discouragement happens. It shouldn’t be surprising.
But for leaders, it can be destructive. Discouragement is contagious. Your discouragement will spread to those you lead.
Discouragement is also curable. Your focus determines your happiness. Peter wrote his first letter in the New Testament to a discouraged community of believers. Rome had burned, and Nero was blaming Christians. Christians at the time were being fed to lions.
So, in the first few verses of the letter, he urges believers to focus on three things as they face discouragement.
- God has chosen you to be a part of his family. “Dear friends, God the Father chose you long ago and knew you would become his children” (1 Peter 1:2 NLT).
You’re not an accident. Your ministry isn’t a mistake. No matter what you’ve done, God picked you to be a part of his family.
God didn’t choose you because you’d be a pastor one day. It wasn’t because you were a good person. Peter tells us exactly why God chose us. “It is his boundless mercy that has given us the privilege of being born again so that we are now members of God’s own family” (1 Peter 1:3 TLB).
God knew whatever challenges you’re facing right now, and he chose you because of his mercy. You’ll never earn it. You can never work hard enough for it.
But the creator of the universe says, “I want you in my family.”
Maybe you’re just hanging by a thread right now, ready to throw in the towel and quit ministry.
No matter what’s happened, God chose you to be a part of his family. He loves you. Never forget that.
- God is working in your life. “The Holy Spirit has been at work in your hearts, cleansing you with the blood of Jesus Christ and making you to please him” (1 Peter 1:2 TLB).
Yes, you’re going through tough times. You may feel as if God is a million miles away. It may seem as if your ministry is stalling.
But God is not done with you. The Holy Spirit, as Peter reminds us in verse 2, is at work in your life, cleansing you with the blood of Jesus.
The Holy Spirit does two things inside of you. He cleanses you and changes you. He’s always at work making you more like Jesus.
Your situation isn’t hopeless. As long as you have God, you’re never hopeless. We have an empty tomb and a living hope. God cares about what’s going on in your life—and he is making you more like Jesus as you go through it.
In fact, later on in this chapter, the Bible tells us your struggles have a purpose.
“Their purpose is to prove that your faith is genuine. Even gold… is tested by fire; and so your faith…must also be tested, that it may endure. Then you will receive praise … and honor on the Day when Jesus returns” (1 Peter 1:7 GNB).
God will use your pain to refine your faith, just like heat refines gold.
- God has secured your future. “God has reserved for his children the priceless gift of eternal life; it is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay?” (1 Peter 1:4 TLB).
No matter what’s going on in your life and ministry, your eternity with God will never be canceled. Peter says it’s reserved and “kept beyond the reach of change and decay.”
You’ll lose many things in this life, but you won’t lose that. The final chapter of this universe has been written. If you’ve committed your life to Christ, you’ll be with him for eternity.
Every problem you’ve endured will be worth it at that time because of what is to come. Peter urges us to, “Be truly glad! There is wonderful joy ahead, even though the going is rough for a while down here” (1 Peter 1:6 TLB). Memorize that verse and remind yourself of it as you face difficulties.
So, when you’re struggling with discouragement, remember these three life-changing truths from Peter’s letter: You are chosen, God is using you, and your future is secure.
Nothing you can do, and nothing that can be done to you, will ever change those truths. You are a child of God, called to lead his people. Your future is not only bright, but eternal.
Preach the sermon, love your congregation, and serve your community. Do it all with the assurance that God will never let you go.
Keep pressing on.