Are you discouraged in your service to the Lord? It happens to all of us. As much as we would like life to move “up and the right,” we will all endure seasons of feeling inadequate, dejected and downright pessimistic. Sometimes we just want to become 10 years old again and “take our ball and go home.” Such seasons can be times of growth but we must not allow these seasons to become our new norm.
Here are some words to the discouraged:
1) Double down on the mission
Discouraged people are often people off-mission. Refocus your energy toward your church mission statement and get back to doing the stuff you were doing when things were going well. Getting back to the basics of effectiveness is always a good mantra in difficult times.
2) Stop feeling sorry for yourself
Everyone in the Bible had tough times and everyone God has ever used throughout history had tough times. Jesus had tough times for heaven’s sake! Realize you are in good company and cancel the pity party due to lack of interest.
3) Be faithful
Being faithful is easy when things are going great but can be quite burdensome when they are not. “What is the use?” is a lie the devil uses early and often in such seasons. The Bible commends faithfulness above all things. So keep battling in such a way as we hear God say, “Well done good and faithful servant.”
4) Remember tough times don’t last forever
They seem like they do but they don’t. God wins. Something has to turn around at some point if you are on God’s side.
5) Learn any lessons you need to learn
Some rough seasons are self-inflicted, others are inevitable but all offer an opportunity for learning, leaning on Jesus and growth. It is often the skills we learn in the valley that enable us to once again soar on the mountain top!
6) Attack the distract
In times of discouragement, sources of distraction are deadly. Silence the negative and divisive voices by choosing not to listen to them and firmly rebuking them. You need voices of hope in tough times, not selfish people with an uncanny and disheartening grasp of the obvious. Misery missionaries go home.
7) Live in victory
Just start living in victory. Just do it. Speak victory, celebrate the victory promised in the Bible and claim the victory God is about to give you!
There is nothing wrong with seasons of discouragement. They are a natural and normal part of serving God in a fallen world. But discouragement must never become your permanent address. That address is “life and life abundant.”
Hang in there. Don’t waiver. Keep planting good seed. Be faithful. Good things are coming!
-Rev. Shane L. Bishop, A Distinguished Evangelist of the United Methodist Church has been the Sr. Pastor at Christ Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois since 1997.