Handling Pastoral Discouragement And Disappointments

Disappointed? Discouraged?

Discouragement is defined as the feeling of despair in the face of obstacles.

Over the course of the years, very few pastors escape discouragement.

This emotion, as well as other emotions in the life of an undisciplined pastor, usually drives these pastors into isolation that may involve drugs, alcohol, and sexual immorality. Why? The pain of despair or discouragement will seek places of sin to appease failure and other hurts of the soul that only God could heal.

I can testify very well about this area.

Usually, new and even seasoned pastors experience discouragement related to lack of church growth and ministerial ineffectiveness.

No pastor walks into the pastoral ministry expecting failure.

Every pastor dreams, envisions, and expects tremendous success.

When discouragement comes, many pastors go into search mode. Some go into prayer and fasting to seek the face of God. Others go to statistics and church growth books. Many go to the Internet to see if they could mirror other successful ministries to glean from their successes in hopes of encountering the same measure of success. Not realizing that sometimes, you are reading what God gave them to grow their ministry and all you are doing is spending hard earned money on their God ordained methods and means of the past that worked for them.

There is a reason why it may not work.

Ask yourself this question and then answer it honestly.

Are you doing what God told you to do? 

If you are doing what God told them to do and attempt to do what God told them to do, unless you were divinely instructed, you may be walking in disobedience. There is nothing wrong with reading to be encouraged but the one thing that you need to walk away with after you are finished reading their books is “Are you doing what God told you to do?”

When you are not experiencing what you expect to happen in your ministry and other pastors seem to be hitting their stride, in the back of your mind you are definitely wondering if you have heard from God. Many pastors begin their ministries with tremendous expectations, excitement, great moves of the Spirit of the Lord. No pastor walks into his or her ministry expecting anything less.

Every pastor expects their ministry to be fruitful and multiply. It is God’s will that you and your ministry be fruitful and multiply. In looking at the demographics, it is true that city size varies and that’s something that must be considered.

Fruitful ministry is not just in church size but in discipleship. Effective ministry is when you are maturing the saints. At the same time, you cannot sit there and teach the same saints all year long. If there are others that has not heard the gospel of Jesus Christ and your town only has ten unsaved folk, there is much work to be done to reach them for Jesus.

So size is a relative term based on demographics but effectiveness, and even ineffectiveness isn’t.

So, what’s the problem?

Why aren’t we experiencing growth? After sowing much seed, why is there no harvest? Is there something wrong with us? Are we doing everything reasonably possible to fish for men? Or is the reason and purpose for existing lost?

After these and other questions, discouragement sets in very quickly. Pastors try to keep a “faith face” on so the rest of the small congregation won’t be contaminated. But underneath all that, everyone sees the “reality.”

Something is definitely wrong.

Sometimes a new pastor will question the call of God on their lives. Many began walking away and closing the church doors in the mind, and it’s a matter of time before they close the doors and physically walk away for good. Many new pastors blame their small congregation for their “lack of faith” and “ineffectiveness” in evangelism.

Instead of rallying the troops, he or she belittles them and make them feel insignificant.

Bad move!

Then the faithful few turn on their pastors and begins to belittle their calling.

Bad move!

Many of the new pastors even pray for new people to replace the ones that are there.

Bad move! Unless the people in that church is revolting against pastoral leadership.

Sometimes, people do what they want to do instead of doing what the Lord instructed them to do to help their pastor grow the work. Sometimes pastors are too strong willed and never let people be free to help the church grow by introducing Biblically founded means and methods to evangelize.

What is a new pastor to do?

Let’s look at it from the fact that you know that you were called by the Lord.

Let’s begin there.

Undeniably, you’ve heard the Lord call your name and you know very well that the voice and direction of the Lord was clear. Wisdom demanded that you seek wise, God ordained counsel of your pastor and other seasoned men and women of God in pastoral ministry for insight, instruction, encouragement, and confirmation.

After sitting down and putting on paper your God ordained vision, what you believe the Lord commanded you to accomplish, and other pertinent information (Habakkuk 2:1-2), you set out to incorporate your ministry, and secure a location to have your services.

As you set out, some of you may have left alone or with a few folk at the onset.

These are called the faithful few.

As time progresses, week after week, the few remain the few.

Every now and then, a couple of people come to visit but, for whatever reason, they do not stay. Along with your other plans, you set out to evangelize. No new pastor could do no wrong by evangelizing their AOR or Area Of Responsibility.

After all, that’s what the primary purpose of church existence. To… “make disciples of all the nations…”

Sadly, most new pastors do not have a plan to evangelize.

They expect the Lord to draw sinners in and this is true, to a degree. God is capable of drawing anyone to the location where the Lord wants them to go, however, we are still supposed to evangelize.

The thing that may be absent is securing help from the Holy Spirit.

In all reality, depending upon their ministerial upbringing, new pastors expect other believers from other churches to fill the seats and depending upon their pastoral or ministerial reputation that precedes them, they do attract other believers from already established churches.

As time progresses, little to no fruit is produced.

This is troubling for many new pastors because of the level of expectation of watching God grow your ministry.

After a while, discouragement sets in.

Exactly what the devil planned. The last thing that the devil wants is for another place to be packed with hungry souls that hunger and thirst after God.

So the enemy will use every tool at his disposal to keep you from hearing from God to implement a unique plan suited for your ministry.

So how does a pastor deal with all of this and discouragement?

1. Stop Sulking!

First, sitting there sulking all the time is not going to help you get out of discouragement.

Past failures is not indicative of future results.

In other words, do not let what happened in the past fool you into thinking that this is what will be for the rest of your ministerial life. Just as poverty is a mentality, ministerial failure is a mentality as well. If you think you are not going anywhere, you will not go anywhere. It is only when you begin to change what you’ve been thinking and meditating on that things begin to change.

Joel 3:10 says, “Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears; Let the weak say, ‘I am strong.’

In other words, it’s time to change what you have been doing and thinking.

You need to change your mentality from farming to fighting.

This isn’t about harvest. This is about mindsets. You have to fight to adjust what your mind is thinking about.

Never mind about your current condition, take up God’s condition and position for you.

You are strong! God knows that you can’t do it with your own strength but with God strengthening you, you can.

Don’t look at the empty seats in your church except to see them filled.

See it, say it, expect it, and then go out, and get them.

They are ordained to be disciples of Jesus. There are people ordained to sit in those chairs. But not just to sit in the chairs. They are destined to move into volunteer positions to help the church in the work of the ministry to affect change in the community where the church is assigned.

They are destined to be a part of something great in the earth.

The kingdom of God.

The greatest marketing tool is the believer bought by the blood of the Lamb.

2 Corinthians 3:2-3 says, “You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.”

Joshua 1:7-9 is the tale of the tape to get out of discouragement.

Every morning, you must wake up with one purpose in mind. Praise God and defy the devil. You must learn to wake up every morning to confound the enemy.

2. Personal Daily Devotion

Get back into the place of personal devotion before the Lord.

If you’ve been away from the Lord, just repent and return. The Lord will not hold it against you. He forgives and then He gives grace to the humble.

There are many pastors that do not make time to meet with the Lord in prayer and personal reading of the Scriptures. This is how the enemy gets a stronghold established.

Sin is not far behind.

Secret Sexual Sins.

You cannot let the enemy win this battle to take your heart. In the secret place of the Most High is where you will gain strength and victory for each moment. Keep your mind stayed on God starts with making God first place in your life. Make devotion to God the breakfast of Champions. More Biblically speaking, the Breakfast of More Than Conquerors.

3. Faith Is Contagious!

Faith in God is contagious. Contagious means capable of being transmitted by infection. You need to infect people with what God told you. In the same way, fear, doubt, and unbelief is contagious. If you study the book of Numbers, it is a clear picture of double minded people. God had to show them miracle after miracle that He is capable. But they refused because immediately doubt and unbelief would overcome them. All throughout the history of the Jews, nothing but unbelief plagued them.

As a pastor, if they see that you are quick to give up, they will give up too. If they are quick to stand in faith with you, they will stand with you and they will help you do the work God called you to do. It’s either going to be faith or fear, belief or unbelief.

Which will it be?

4. Boldly Communicate What The Lord Said.

You need to communicate exactly what God will do in terms of what your assignment is and the success that will follow as a result.

Stop murmuring and complaining about what you do not have, what others are doing to attempt to stop you, stop talking doubt, unbelief, and any non productive, in operative, unfruitful word. Bite your tongue. Do anything to keep negative demonic words from flowing out of your mouth. Just as God is moved by your faith in His Word, the devil is moved and obliged to honor his devilish word flowing out of your mouth.

5. The Faithful Long Haul.

If you believe that you are called by God to pastor a church from scratch, you need to make sure that you are prepared for the long haul.

Ecclesiastes 9:11 says, “I returned and saw under the sun that- The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill but time and chance happen to them all.”

As a note, time and chance happen to THEM, not to the ones that walk in God’s plans and purposes.

Who is the “THEM?”

The swift, the strong, the wise, the men of understanding, and the men of skill.

The race, the battle, the bread, the riches, and the favor is given to those that do not use their own wisdom to win.

The race, the battle, the bread, the riches, and the favor was given to those that trust in God alone.

6. The Great Commission.

God is counting on you to hear from Him His divine instructions, wisdom, and guidance. Everything that you need is in the Great Commission. You cannot fail when you do exactly what the Lord told you to do in line with the Great Commission. If you attempt to build His church another way, it must fail.

But when you do it in accordance with Matthew 28:18-20, expect success.

Launch out into the deep and let your nets down for a catch.

7. Be Found Doing What God Told You To Do

As I have said before, we have been making other prominent pastors more rich by reading their God given means and methods that made their ministries successful. It is time for you to look to the Lord and dust off that vision you wrote down that started your ministry. It is time to pray God’s will in the earth for your ministry. It is time to seek God for what He gave you.

Do not get me wrong. Again, when you are directed by the Holy Spirit to read what they did, learn this one lesson.

All they did was what the Lord told them.

Go back to what the Lord told you to do and be found faithful in doing that.

God will honor His Word He gave to you to perform it.

Father, in the name of Jesus, forgive me of succumbing to the spirit of discouragement. Forgive me for not trusting what you said to me. I believe your promise. Lord, I know that you will work with us to build Your kingdom, Your church. And the gates of hades will not prevail. They will not withstand the pounding of the saints. The devil’s organization to disrupt and confuse the church comes to an end and God, You are Faithful to Your Word that You’ve given to us. We expect souls for your kingdom. We purpose to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in Your Name! We compel men and women to come and fill your house. We expect every chair to be filled because it is Your will. We expect great success because You have ordained it so. We will be willing and obedient. We will be fruitful and multiply. We are the laborers sent into His harvest. And we will work while it is day. All that the Lord gives us, the fruit will remain. We speak faith in God and we will see what God promised in His Word to us come to pass. Not in the next generation, but in our lifetime.


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