Rebounding from Ministry Discouragement

I recently interviewed Isaiah Lewis on my podcast. In that interview, Isaiah told us about a very challenging ministry experience he went through. He went to a new church as their Lead Pastor but had no idea what he was getting into. It turns out he was lied to in the interview process, had doctrinal differences with the church that they did not disclose, and they had an extremely unhealthy leadership structure. In that conversation, we discussed how to know when you should leave a church or stay and push for change. We also talked about how to rebound from ministry disarrangement.

The conversation was fascinating. You can listen to both episodes below.

It is the last topic that I want to highlight here. How should a pastor rebound from ministry discouragement? Several themes were highlighted in the interview. Here are three thoughts.

Pastors Need to Prioritize Their Walk with God

This should be a given. However, it is not uncommon to hear from pastors who are active in serving God but are neglecting their relationship with God. When a pastor goes through a traumatic ministry hardship, his walk with God will be what sustains him. Those who neglect their walk with God will lack the perspective and spiritual vitality they need to walk through that valley.

Pastors Should be Self-Aware

Pastor, you need to be extremely self-aware. How has God gifted you? In what areas of ministry are you strong? In what areas are you weak? What is your personality? What are your normal reactions in conflict? How do you naturally respond to discouragement? A clear understanding of how to honestly answer these questions is so important.

Being self-aware allows you to put up guard rails to protect you from yourself. The answers to these questions will influence how you should respond to conflict, how you should respond to leadership struggles, and how you should respond to the discouragement, frustration, and sadness that is sometimes a reality in ministry.

Pastors Need a Network

We have written about the dangers of pastoral isolation. The times when it is most dangerous are when there are issues or challenges in church ministry. You need to have people in your life that you can reach out to, talk things through with, and receive encouragement from. We need people praying for us.

We often need an outside perspective to help keep us from viewing reality through the lens of our challenges. We need someone who can constantly re-focus us on the truth that our identity is found in Christ, not in our ministry. We need constant reminders of what our biblical priorities should be.

Closing Thought

When a pastor has a healthy personal walk with God, is self-aware, and is part of an encouraging network, he can withstand the storms that ministry can throw his way. The results can be dangerous when these three things are not a reality in a pastor’s life.

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