If you're a pastor, a missionary, or serve in a church, you can't avoid discouragement, disappointment, or hurt from ministry. The bible...
If you're a pastor, a missionary, or serve in a church, you can't avoid discouragement, disappointment, or 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 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.
Journal your thoughts. Writing them down helps me stop the tendency to incessantly mull over the hurtful situation.
Read God's word, especially those verses that speak of hope and victory.
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.
If you get knocked down, sincerely seek the Lord and rise up in His strength to begin anew.
I sat next to a brilliant PhD at a recent men's breakfast and he made an insightful statement that struck a chord with me, “I think extroverts think introverts should be like them”.
We chatted about the master's degree I'm pursuing in neuroleadership and about his shift from chemistry to software development. During that conversation I felt prompted to ask him if he was an introvert. He responded with a quick, "Definitely." After I suggested he read a book that addresses what the book defined as, “the quiet power of introverts” he responded with, "Oh yes, I've heard about that book on the radio recently. I'll have to get it." As we finished our bacon and pancakes we talking about what it was like being an introvert (we both qualify). Then he made that simple striking statement:
“I think extroverts think introverts should be like them”
I paused a moment and then exclaimed, "You know, you're right, they do!" Something inside my subconscious immediately resonated with his statement. We didn't have long to unpack his thought, but the more I mulled over it the more it made sense.
The idea probably lacks scientific basis and is anecdotal at best, but it seems to ring true. As an introverted pastor, yet with good people skills, occasionally I've felt subtle pressure from extroverted leaders to become more extroverted. But the dynamic goes both ways as well. I admit that I've also wished I were more extroverted at times. So, could this next corollary be true as well?
“Introverts wish they were more like extroverts.”
Some church leaders subconsciously believe that introverts don’t make good Pastors. Or, maybe they do.
I'm a pastor and an introvert.
I get energy from being alone.
Being with people for long periods of time drains me, although I have strong people skills.
I love to read.
I go on silent retreats.
After church Sunday I want to go home
Did I say that I am an introvert?
Am I automatically disadvantaged as an introverted pastor? Do only the gregarious, back-slapping pastors lead big churches?
Some years ago I learned that my introversion offended a church leader where I once served. We held an overnight leadership retreat at a local retreat center. After the last session ended around nine, we provided snacks and games. At about ten, I went to bed as was my habit. Most of the other leaders stayed up past midnight. Had I stayed up with them, I would have been toast for the sessions to follow the next morning.
I learned months later that my leaving the group to go to bed offended him. He brought it up more than once. He was an extrovert and did not like me yielding to my introversion.
Should I have stayed up to "work the crowd?" Perhaps. But that incident illustrates the challenges introverts often face when they serve in ministry.
I have continued to ponder this issue since that encounter at breakfast. I've done more reading on the subject. It is really helpful to realize that all successful Presidents of nations and companies and all successful leaders of groups, organizations, teams, and Universities have one thing in common. They all have different God given personalities! The reality is that God has “fearfully and wonderfully made us” exactly they way He wants. He does not make mistakes. My encouragement is for you to lean into your strengths because that is where you will discover the authentic power God designed for you to use in ministry.
If you would like to take an assessment to gain some insight into your God given personality then go to Strengths Assessment.
Pastor Newsletter Archieves
Click to read past articles --->
Praying for Peace And It Does Not Come--->
What Pastors Should Look For in a Safe Relationship--->
Turning a Little Criticism into Major Carnage--->
Why Smart Pastors Stumble--->
When You Don’t Know What To Do, Find Someone Who Does--->
A Biblical Mentoring Model--->
When Ministry Knocks You Down--->
Introverts in Ministry--->
Should Pastors Repent Publically?--->
Guilt Producing Questions Pastors Secretly Ask Themselves--->
Saving Your Family Without Killing Your Ministry--->
Eight Healthy Ways To Respond When People Leave Your Church--->
When You’re Challenged, How Do You Respond?--->
Making the Move from Conflict to Cooperation--->