I hear from pastors all the time who are ready to give up. They’re tired. They’re frustrated. They feel like they’ve failed their family, their congregation—and God.
Any veteran church leader has experienced discouragement. In fact, some of us have been through several trying seasons.
It’s not a sin to get discouraged—it happens to all of us. Discouragement is a byproduct of spiritual warfare. It also happens when our expectations need to be readjusted.
God uses discouragement to draw us closer to him and to refine our ministry.
Don’t give up! What you are doing is far too important! We are in this battle together! God can still do more than you could ever imagine in your life and through your ministry.
If you are ready to give up, consider the following:
Remember how much God loves you. I suspect that you often preach about God’s love. If you’re feeling discouraged, it’s time to “preach it” to yourself. You can’t feel the love of God and feel discouraged at the same time.
Refuse to “fake it.” Typically, this is tough for those of us in ministry. Much of our lives are on display. We buy into the lie that we can’t be real and still be effective in church ministry. This simply isn’t true. The people in your church are struggling. It gives them hope when they know you are too.
Naturally, you need to be wise about what you share. You need to match your integrity with discernment. You may be able to live a double life for a little while, but it will eventually catch up with you.
Take the focus off of yourself. Remember that there’s more to your life than just you. IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU! The more self-focused you become, the more discouraged you will get. Life is bigger than you. Take the focus off of your problems, broaden your perspective to include others, and your discouragement will diminish.
Be realistic about your limitations. You are a ministry leader, not the latest hero in a comic book movie. You can’t leap tall buildings in a single bound. You are a normal person and you have limits.
Unless you have a realistic view of what you can and cannot do, you’re headed for regular bouts of discouragement. But there’s good news for you—when you learn to be realistic about your limitations, you’ll be less discouraged.
- You can’t keep everyone happy
- You aren’t going to hit a home run with every sermon
- You won’t successfully handle every conflict
“That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10 NLT).
Take time for renewal. If you want to be in ministry for the long haul, you need to find ways to recharge. You need to divert daily, withdraw weekly, and abandon annually.
You need to do something every day that recharges you—whether it’s taking a walk, engaging in a hobby, playing with the kids, or anything else that leaves you with more energy when you’re done. You need a day of rest, a Sabbath day when you don’t do any work. Maybe it’s not during the weekend for you. Make sure you’re taking another day as your Sabbath. Then, make sure you take vacation time every year.
Stay focused on eternity. I call it the tyranny of the trivial. It’s when we major in the minors and ignore the majors. Even in ministry, it’s tempting to focus on issues that just don’t matter. When we take on the weight of a seemingly infinite amount of insignificant things, the only result can be a discouragement.
Unless you can let go of the minutiae, discouragement will be a constant companion.
Don’t spend your time worrying about issues that won’t matter next week or even next year. Keep your perspective on what will outlast you on this earth. Your present struggles will only last for a brief time compared to eternity.
“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13–14 NIV).
I came across your page in total distress as a Pastor wanting to just throw in the towel, I have Pastored 15 years and have faced so many challenges from the death of my daughter to being lied on by members and those that have bad mouth the church simply because they felt they had reason, they tried to discourage others as well and even after they left continued. They have since apologized for their behavior but I am just broken and have been struggling that maybe it’s time to throw in the towel. God has kept this Church with next to nothing, and some how we have gotten through it’s tough wondering where funds will come from with so few. But I have continued to press on. Now I have been faced to deal with and addict and a spouse that had an affair and continue to try a Pastor. I’ve tried to even turn the church over to someone else and it did not work out. I don’t understand. I know the God I server and I realize that scripture says he won’t put more on us than we’re can bear but I just want to crawl up in a box I’m tired, frustrated, angry, and discouraged I need help. Why is my question?? How do I continue to encourage other when I myself am empty!!! I don’t get a salary we’ve been small all along and their are those that are faithful in coming but not in giving, we just meet the bills and I’m grateful for that. It’s hard to share my feelings with anyone but God, but I need a ear and some help. I’m non denomination and independent.
God bless you Pastor Rick. I am blessed through this message. Thanks.
God’s perfect timing for me! Thank you for sharing! I received encouragement!
Thanks, pastor Rick
In your profile at the end of the excellent article, I’m curious, now, what is the fifth giant of global spiritual emptiness? I go along with the first and fourth but how do poverty and disease create spiritual emptiness?