Did I please God? Did I preach well? Was I thorough enough without being too deep, and fun enough without being too shallow? Did I make a difference? Did I strengthen anyone’s faith? Did hell shudder? Or did I just facilitate a colossal waste of everyone’s time?
I’m not sure what kind of thoughts stir in you after a significant effort in your job, but these types of questions frequently plague us pastors in the aftermath of weekend church services. If we’re not careful, these questions will overwhelm us until we sink into states of excessive self-evaluation, skewed perspectives, exaggerated feelings of failure or inadequacy, and an overall case of the blues.
In these moments pastors need to remember several things:
- Their bodies are recovering from an adrenaline spike and crash
- Their hearts are recovering from being worn on their sleeves in front of potentially mixed responses
- Their souls are experiencing spiritual warfare in the form of aerial discouragement assaults
- And God is calling them deeper
Beneath the highs, lows, successes, and failures of church ministry, God is beckoning His servant-leaders to stay connected to what really matters. He is calling His ministers to remember that God is not limited to either our strengths or our weaknesses. The church, the people, and the world are HIS responsibility—ours is to faithfully love and serve them. Spirit-led, Spirit-powered ministry will produce “fruit that remains” if we don’t give up.
Just as pastors need to identify the anatomy of their discouragement patterns, so you might need to make some assessments too. What triggers your discouragement? What are its messages? What happens to you if you indulge in it? And what is God’s deeper message to you?
If you need to sleep, sleep. If you need therapy, get it. But at the end of the day, climb back in the saddle and remember Paul’s faith-filled words to Titus on the island of Crete: “For this reason I left you in Crete that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city…” (Titus 1:5).
There is a purpose in our current assignment—whether inside or outside of the church—and our calling is to carry on until that purpose is a reality (and elders can be found on every street corner).