I’m bummed. Not depressed. Just bummed.
The short story is that I didn’t get asked back to help with a summer ministry I know and love. No hard feelings, they told me, just a new direction.
That new direction left me feeling, well, bummed.
Discouragement in ministry can happen when you least expect it.
It might be because your numbers aren’t anything like the church down the street. Or maybe they just aren’t like last year.
It may be due to the students you thought would be apart of your leadership team seeming to lose their minds and have jumped off the deep-end. Maybe it’s because that lunch you schedule with a parent turned out not to be a good time of encouragement that you had hoped for, but rather a time when your burger wasn’t the only thing that was grilled well past edible.
What do you do when you’re discouraged in ministry? Here are four things I’ve been trying to do and remember:
1. Say it with me: You are not your job.
This one is tough for me. If I introduce myself to you, right after my name I’ll tell you I’m a student pastor. Sometimes that hurts, rather than helps. Your calling is huge and God given for sure, but don’t let sometimes critique of a program you’re doing turn into a critique of you. You aren’t your job. God’s love for you is not dependent on your job title.
2. Spend time with your family and friends.
There’s an entire cheer section you have around you: your family and friends. They love you. Let them encourage you! Tell them that you’re feeling down and ask them to lift you up. You’d be surprised how willing others will be to come alongside you when you’re feeling blue.
3. Keep your hobby game strong.
Do you go to the gym? Or play video games? Or write? Or golf? If you’ve been so engrossed in ministry for awhile that you’ve been neglecting some “you” time, take a break. If you’re like me, you’ve got vacation days piled up that you need to use anyways. Take one and do something you love. It’s time you should be getting anyways.
4. Dive into the Word.
I put this last because it’s most important. When I first got the news I went to the Bible to find things that were true. About me and about God. Like that He loves me. That He’s always with me. That I’m His son. That Jesus died to save me. That things happen so that God gets glory. I read those over and over again to remind myself that while other facts can be disputed, these things are true. And I was encouraged.
Being discouraged in ministry can come when you least expect it. When it comes for you, remember what’s true: God loves you and is using you to impact students. You got this.
Ronald is the Middle School Pastor at Wayside Chapel in San Antonio, Texas. Taco Bell and Dr Pepper are two things he loves, but not as much as he loves his wife and three daughters. He’s also written some resources for DYM that you should check out.