Dealing with Discouragement

It has come to my attention that the number one reason pastors leave the ministry is due to discouragement. At twenty-five years old, this news is hard to hear.   I love the ministry but I understand. Actually I did not want to believe it at first.  However, after some thought and doing a little research, it really is the truth. I see it time and time again. Great ministers of God’s word leave the church because their tired of being thick skinned and depressed. I think about it in my own ministry. For example, I used to spend a lot of time in the week focusing my time on how I could make people happy instead of making God happy. A few months ago this changed as I re-directed my vision, focusing on making Christ happy. A God pleasing man is a smart man. I was getting discouraged repeatedly focusing my attention on people instead of on God. I am seeing real progress in keeping my eyes on Christ and it’s paying off in huge ways.

Dealing with Discouragement

Discouragement comes from negative, critical comments or underhanded remarks. Usually people don’t mean any harm when there negative but it does do a lot of damage. As adults, it seems that we have this way of “fighting fair”. Call it what you will but it still hurts.  Stick and stones may break my bones but words will always hurt me.

Question – “As a pastor, do you really get people being critical and discouraging?”
Yes. It is amazing. It happens a lot and it is extremely serious. Not everyone is going to back your ministry. When God talks and tells you something to do, you better be prepared and prayed up to do it. There are people out there that are not excited about what you heard. People are admit on telling your your wrong, being negative, and being harsh The real process of removing discouragement starts with weeding out the negativity.

Getting rid of the junk

I don’t get a lot of negative e-mails so my e-mail is not screened. I hope I never have to get to this point in my ministry, but the truth is, as you grow, you will. As for right now I can breathe easy when I open my inbox. I have thought about screening my e-mail but for right now it seems silly. As a youth pastor, my leadership team (which includes my wife) is my life. They are there for constructive criticism, helpful praise, and correction. Each one of those individuals are hand picked to push me in my spiritual life. They aid in the job I am doing as a pastor. Sometimes I read e-mails from leaders two to three times over to work on what they are saying or praise God for their kind words and encouragement. I find myself constantly humbled by the team that God has given me.

There is a lot of junk that isn’t constructive and encouraging.  This feedback comes outside leadership. This garbage is put in the way of ministry and discourages me and prevents the word getting out. Focusing on discouragement prevent me from doing what God wants me to do and puts the focus on what people want.  This is the opposite of ministry and what God wants. Satan will put roadblocks in your path that look like friendly, caring, people but are really wolves in sheep’s clothing. Don’t get mad because it’s the truth. If you are mad at that statement right now then maybe you should check your clothing.  Are you hiding under a sheep’s clothing?  Are you the roadblock for someone else? When junk comes across the table my leadership team sorts out the statements or accusations to see if there is any validity in it. They reacts according to the what the bible says and if necessary, take it to me. At times the leadership will not even bring it to my attention because of the discouragement and setback that it can cause in ministry.

You might be saying that I shouldn’t isolate myself from all negative feedback, that I should listen to everything everybody says.  Well, I don’t. My wife, my leadership team, and my personal mentors get to tell me whatever they need to in appropriate settings and i will listen to them and their guidance.  That is the reason they are in the place they are at.  We are working hard at applying the negativity filter on Sunday night. This process must be accomplished due to the impact discouragement can have on a Sunday night setting or even in personal character. The leadership team and my wife know me, my heart, and my actions. They love me and I listen to them. Don’t believe it? Ask them.  Just as they filter negativity and discouragement out in my life, I do the same in theirs.

Things I am working on to avoid discouragement

  1. Getting a professional counselor every week – It helps to have someone listen to you who is outside the church walls to give a fresh perspective. Pastors who have a counselor are shown to be less discouraged with the “weight” of ministry taken off.
  2. Acquire two accountability partners – One to work on personal accountability and another one to look at my messages I preach to do a voluntary critique. The one accountability partner needs to be close to my life to see me in my normal setting. The other should be a pastor or trusted friend to look at messages. We would need to share the same vision for ministry as well.

Keeping negativity away from you is not isolating yourself. It’s being intentional. Critics come in all shapes and sizes. As a pastor I have to let my leadership team pick and choose the critical remarks that come across my desk so that I can remain untouched from discouragement.  I want to be in ministry for the long haul. I could react to every single comment that is negative that comes across my desk but I don’t have the time or the desire.  It all comes down to taking the focus off what others think and place your focus on what Jesus thinks.

demolish discouragement



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