Discouragement / dis·cour·age·ment / disˈkərijmənt/

At some point, all of us face it…

For me, there are plenty of days when I’m not hitting on all cylinders…especially lately. At times, COVID-19 has had me wondering if what I’m doing is actually making a difference. Back in March, I went from being a pastor to a podcaster. It sounded fun at first, but just like any podcaster, in the back of my head I know people aren’t really listening. I went from preaching to an audience of real people to preaching to a 35mm camera lens.

I have no clue when things will be back to normal…and I don’t know the first thing about what the “new normal” is gonna be. It’s kind of scary actually. Sometimes I start fantasizing about other jobs, other times I think I need a plan B, a backup plan in case everyone leaves the church. Maybe there is a job where I could stock shelves all day long and then clock out at 5pm and go home? Maybe there is a job that doesn’t involve pleasing people…or interacting with people, or maybe I could just send my wife to work and I stay home with the baby…

…BUT…I don’t. I do what I do because I’m CALLED.  So…when times of discouragement come—how do I deal with it?

I noticed the other day when reading 1 Samuel 30:1-6, that after an INCREDIBLY discouraging event in his life, David found strength in the Lord…and somehow he mustered up the courage to move forward, even when he probably felt like quitting…

…how do WE do that?

#1 – STOP Comparing Yourself To Other People.

Early in this pandemic, I had a few different people tell me that they were really enjoying not being at church on Sundays because they get to listen to their favorite preachers…Steven Furtick, Andy Stanley, and others…on Sunday morning instead of being “tied up” at Oasis. The emotionally healthy part of me wanted to say, “well one day when you die, have Andy Stanley or Steven Furtick do your funeral” or “one day when you need some advice, see if one those guys will meet you for coffee…” but I didn’t say any of that, I just listened and tried to put myself in their shoes.

Honestly, it sent me into a frenzy of insecurity. The thought that people who I had invested so much of my time and life to serve were just trading me for their favorite mega church preacher on Sunday mornings really bothered me. It wasn’t long before I started watching and comparing myself, too! Yea, they’re definitely better preachers, better leaders, more on top of their game! They have straight teeth, pretty faces, clever sermon illustrations, big followings, celebrity personalities, etc. 

One thing I’ve learned these past few months is that when I compare myself to others I ALWAYS lose because there is ALWAYS someone who does it better, has a larger congregation and/or seems to always have the better ideas.

I was confessing some of my feelings to a pastor friend recently, and he reminded me God does not want us to be in a state of comparison…because comparison OFTEN leads to compromise. When we want what others have…we will go against God’s vision for our lives to get it!

I was reminded that as a leader, when I stand before Jesus and I’m held accountable (Hebrews 13:17) I will not answer for what other churches/pastors did and did not do…but rather what did I do with the vision and gifting that God blessed me with?

#2 – Surround Yourself With Encouraging People

One of the reasons some of us are always discouraged is because we are surrounded by people who make us want to jump off a bridge!! These people would be…

  • The person who thinks it is their gifting to point out every problem when an idea is discussed.
  • The person who is always having a bad day…and feels like you should know about it.
  • The person who is an endless pit for affirmation, and literally never feels like you complimented them enough.
  • The person who supports you publicly but bashes you privately.
  • The person who is always taking shots at you and then, when confronted, claims they were only kidding.
  • The person who only cares about how a decision impacts them personally, not the organization as a whole.

I could keep writing examples…as I’m sure you could too…but the reality is…discouraging people will suck the life out of you!!!

I’m learning that it is essential for me to have an atmosphere of encouragement because it is only then that I can thrive…

Who are you surrounding yourself with?  Stop comparing yourself with others. Surround yourself with encouragers. I’ve got more thoughts about this, but they’ll come in a few days because I know you have a short attention span.