How to Get Back Up When Ministry Knocks You Down

ministry

By Charles Stone -October 19, 2020

If you’re a pastor, a missionary, or serve in a church, you can’t avoid discouragement, disappointment, and hurt from ministry. The Bible even uses the not-so-complimentary metaphor “sheep” to describe those we serve. And sheep get dirty and smelly and often kick and bite. Sometimes those sheep in the church do the same to their shepherds. So when you  get kicked, forgotten, disrespected, ignored, mistreated, gossiped about, or misunderstood, how do you move forward?

The story recorded in 1 Samuel 30 gives great insight. David had just begun his career to fight the bad guys. Early on he faced a huge defeat. While he and his army were in battle far from home, the bad guys, the Amalekites, attacked the city where his family and the families of his army lived. They burned the city and kidnapped their wives and children. When David’s men discovered this, they considered removing him from his position, not by a vote of a board or a congregation, but with big rocks to the head by stoning.

The Scriptures then record one of the most beautiful verses every written. The old King James Version captures it well.

David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.  (1 Sam. 30.6)

It worked because his guys didn’t stone him but marshaled their energy and once again pursued the bad guys under his leadership.

As I’ve faced discouragement in ministry, these simple choices have helped me encourage myself in the Lord.

  • Acknowledge your pain and emotion to the Lord but don’t wallow in it. Neuroscientists have discovered that when we name our emotions, it turns down the volume in our brain’s emotional centers.
  • Journal your thoughts. Writing them down helps me stop the tendency to incessantly mull over the hurtful situation. Writing therapy been scientifically proven to help us process pain.
  • Read God’s Word, especially those verses that speak of hope and victory. Every time you read the Bible, you are actually re-configuring the circuits in your brain and reinforcing Biblical values and truth.
  • Do something pro-active. Take action to move forward. In David’s case he took specific action to resolve the problem. He rallied his troops to chase down the Amalekites.
  • Stop condemning yourself and remind yourself that you are a child of God, loved by Him with great intrinsic value regardless of whether your church is growing or whether people treat you with respect.
  • Pray for those who have hurt you. I’m amazed how God defuses looming bitterness in my heart when I pray for the sheep that bite me.

How have you dealt with your ministry pain?

This article originally appeared here.

When You Feel Like Your Dreams Are on Hold

Shadia Hrichi

“Would I bring to the point of birth and not deliver?”

These are the words God pressed on my heart yesterday. I was in my living room during my morning quiet time. But my mind and spirit were anything but quiet. My journal was open as I furiously penned thoughts and frustrations, prayers and praises … dreams and disappointments. Page after page after page.

Hurricanes on the east coast, wildfires on the west, and COVID racing around the globe. So much chaos swirling all around us. Yet at the same time, here we are simultaneously trapped in our homes. Work from home. School at home. Church at home … What a paradox! Proverbs 27:1 warns us,

“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.”

Isn’t that the truth? 

Truth be told, there are quite a number of Bible verses that remind us not to hold on too tightly to our plans. That can be hard when we live in a society where we are virtually tethered to our calendars.

But what if God gives us the vision? What if our plans are conceived by the Holy Spirit? What happens when we move forward in obedience only to feel like we just slammed into a brick wall?

God says in His Word that when we yield to Him, we will hear His voice saying,

“This is the way, walk in it …” and that He will lead us in the way we should go. (Isaiah 30:21, 48:17).

So we move forward. We step out in faith … then suddenly, wham!

A dear friend had just moved into a lovely home in the beautiful redwoods of Mount Hermon. She had been looking forward to having a quiet place where she could rest and God could give her son room to heal. Just weeks later, she was forced to evacuate because of approaching wildfires.

Another friend has a daughter who had been planning her wedding for over a year. Then COVID hit. They postponed the date. They postponed it again. Finally, she told her parents, “I just want to get married and move on with my life.” Others have lost their homes or had to say goodbye to loved ones from a distance.

As I was praying and journaling, I was struggling with my own disappointment over the LEGION Bible study video production dates being canceled at the last possible moment due to the fires. Add to that the enemy’s attempt to pile on guilt in knowing that my disappointment is trivial compared to what many others are dealing with.

The worse part of it is that no one knows when it will all end. In times like these, it is so easy to give in to despair, but that’s when we have to stop and say, “BUT GOD …”

BUT GOD knows. And God cares. In fact, long before He gave you the dream, He knew exactly how the path, timing, and outcome would look. This is when we need to remind ourselves that God is sovereign over all. In fact, this is one of the key themes in the teaching sessions I will be recording for the Legion Bible study. (Good grief, I need to heed my own words!) And so as I was praying yesterday morning, “casting my cares” on God about when or if the video production would happen, I heard God’s gentle voice, saying,

“Shall I bring to the point of birth and not deliver?”

In other words, if God has pressed a dream into my heart or yours, would He bring us to the edge of fulfillment only to abandon us there? NEVER. GOD IS FAITHFUL TO FINISH WHAT HE STARTED. The path may look different than what we imagined. The timing may not be what we had hoped. But if God gives us the vision, the OUTCOME is as sure as the tomb was empty on resurrection morning.

“The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me.” (Psalm 138:8)

What dream are you trusting God to fulfill in this season?

Copyright © 2020 by Shadia Hrichi, author of LEGION: Rediscovering the God Who Rescues Me and HAGAR: Rediscovering the God Who Sees Me. Used by permission.

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