Disappointment leads to discouragement in ministry. As I have shared with pastors before, you must see these times as seasons, meaning they come and go. Nevertheless, how do you make it through the difficult seasons of ministry?
The best way I can talk about this subject is to relate how I personally have made it through difficult seasons of ministry. Let me give you four ways I have made it through these seasons.
1. Do not ever neglect your daily personal time with God.
A consistent, daily time with God will help you make it through the difficult seasons of ministry. When your time is based on the reading of Scripture, specific prayer and even journaling your walk with God, it helps you make it through these seasons of difficulty.
Try your best not to wait for a perfect time to do this each day. It will not exist. Begin your day, every day, with God. I do my time early each day, but the main thing is doing it the first thing every day.
2. Stay in the Bible when you preach.
Refuse to take your disappointment and discouragement to the pulpit with you unless it is a churchwide issue that must be addressed. This rarely happens, so be careful. Often, pastors take their feelings to the pulpit and before you know it, you are not preaching the Bible to your people, but sharing about things that probably need to be kept within church leadership or even just with you and Jesus.
Satan will do all he can to get you away from the Word, not only personally, but in your preaching. Stay in the Word when you preach. Years ago, a pastor told me something I have never forgotten: “When you are disappointed, discouraged or angry with the church, preach on love; when you are full of love, let them have it!” I don’t know about the “let them have it” part, but it is still good counsel every pastor needs to hear. Stay in the Word of God in your preaching!
3. Keep your head down in leading the church.
When a rift happens in the church, or when difficulty enters into a season of your ministry, keep your head down in leading the church. Remain focused, and refuse to stray away from leading the people to fulfill the missional vision of the church. Do not drift away from the mission.
Seasons of difficulty can really distract a pastor. Do not let them. Great pastors build great churches because they stay focused in leading the church. In the good times and in the bad times, lead!
4. Take time away from the church weekly.
When troubled and difficult times come, we often think that if we work hard enough, they will go away. Unquestionably, we need to work hard, but we also need to walk with wisdom. Take your day off weekly. Do not neglect it.
Do not minimize taking time away from the church weekly. And when vacation time comes, take time away.
Pastor, you can make it. God is with you. I am pulling for you.
Dr. Ronnie Floyd is the senior pastor of Cross Church in Springdale, Arkansas, immediate past president of the Southern Baptist Convention and founder of the Cross Church School of Ministry. This article was originally published on Floyd’s blog at RonnieFloyd.com.