Discouragement is no respecter of persons. It is a common adversary to every man, woman, and child (1 Cor. 10:13). But discouragement often finds a welcome home in the life of a pastor.
Regardless of how strong or weak you are in the faith or how long you have or have not been a disciple of Jesus Christ, you will face discouragement.
Whether it is due to fatigue, significant struggles within your church, or some setback, discouragement will seek you out with the intent of crippling you in your work.
Even though you will feel tempted to wallow in self-pity, Jesus commands you, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me” (John 14:1).
Jesus’ command is not an idle suggestion. If you are feeling discouraged, then Jesus is calling you to fight for encouragement in him. Here are three ways you can fight discouragement in ministry.
#1. Rest in Jesus
The fight against discouragement begins by fighting for rest in Jesus.
Many factors can lead you to be discouraged, and you can busy yourself addressing every single one of these issues. But battling discouragement in this way would be like picking fruit off of a tree with the hope of uprooting the tree. You may temporarily remove the symptom, but it’s going to grow back over time.
Fight the temptation to let discouragement lodge itself as a permanent resident in your life. Do not let your heart be troubled. Believe in Jesus (John 14:1).
As you believe in Jesus, you will receive grace, hope, and peace. In exchange for your burdens, anxieties, or whatever is leading you to be discouraged, Jesus will give you rest (Luke 11:28).
#2. Rest your body
As a pastor, you face physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges.
In an informal poll, Thom Rainer discovered that the median hours a pastor works every week is 50. This means that more than 50% of the pastors surveyed work more than 50 hours per week. Regularly working more than 50 hours week in and week out can easily lead you to burn out physically.
Your job is not only physically taxing, but it is also emotionally draining. The church is not like the Lego Movie: Everything is not awesome. Every church is filled with people broken by sin who have placed their faith in the redeeming love of Jesus Christ. As a pastor, you will walk with people through many challenges, which will take an emotional toll upon you over time.
Finally, as a church leader, you will face spiritual attacks. You may not be able to see, touch, or hear these attacks. But this doesn’t mean they’re not real. You have to be prepared to for spiritual battle. In the words of the Apostle Paul, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Eph. 6:10–11).
After handling physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges, you will need to rest your body. Don’t wait until you’re exhausted. Plan ahead of time to take regular breaks from your work. Actively resting your body will help you to fight discouragement.
#3. Rest your mind
Do you often think about the problems your church is facing?
Is your mind full of the checklist of activities you need to accomplish?
Are you constantly engaged in study in preparation for your sermon?
Dear pastor, rest your body and your mind. Be purposeful in the time you take off. Delegate pastoral responsibilities to a staff member or volunteer during your time off. Take mini-vacations when you can. Unplug from anything that actively engages your mind.
Taking a break from thinking about things will help you mind to grow at ease, minimize any anxiety you are feeling, and help you to battle the discouragement your facing as you rest in Jesus.
How do you fight discouragement? Share your thoughts in the comments below!