When you say yes to ministry, you also say yes to periods of discouragement. Here are some harsh realities:
• Discouragement is painful.
• Discouragement is untimely.
• Discouragement is lonely.
Be confident that you’re not alone in your hurt (see yesterday’s comments).
Here are 10 ways that you might battle the occasional seasons of discouragement:
1. Find an experienced, but neutral, mentor who will listen to you. My encouragement is to make sure this person is outside your church so your conversation isn’t divisive.
2. Seek to spend time with an upbeat friend who is outside of your youth ministry. The benefit of an upbeat friend is that being with a friend who doesn’t really care about your ministry, but cares about you, can be very refreshing.
3. Realize that not everyone will understand you and your ministry. Actually, it’s fairly safe to state that no one will value your ministry as much as you. Perspective can be insightful.
4. Take a day off. A real day off…a day off of email, a day away from the ministry, a day of rest.
5. Schedule solo time away. Once a quarter take an entire day with your journal and Bible and get away. Solitude can really help.
6. Clear the piles on your desk. Piles can be depressing! Shove everything into a box and deal with it later. A clean desk can make a difference in your attitude.
7. Get some sleep. Even if you don’t think you need more sleep, get some any way.
8. Start in a discouragement journal. Write your thoughts out. Write out the discouragement journey from A-Z. It’s amazing when you look back and see God taking you thru a discouraging season and it will happen again.
9. Begin an affirmation file. Save the “keepers”… read them when necessary. Being reminded that you’re not hated and/or a loser can help.
10. Pray! You’re not the first leader to bend the ear of God.
Thankfully there is hope in the midst of discouragement, and because the God of the universe is involved, it’s plentiful. Light is out there for the discouraged.
Don’t loose sight of the eternal Light in the midst of the temporary darkness. When discouragement hits you, count on the reality that God will use that season in your life to increase your ministry effectiveness (God doesn’t waste a hurt).
There’s my 10 ideas…please add to the list! Next week I’ll post all your ideas from yesterday and today. I’m anxious to learn from your ideas!