The great rock band R.E.M. wrote a song, Everybody Hurts, in which the refrain goes, “everybody hurts sometimes.” As anyone in ministry knows, they weren’t kidding!
Discouragement is one of the primary obstacles facing every one of us as small group ministry leaders. No one seems to be immune from occasional moments of feeling defeated and downtrodden.
So what can you do when it feels like the roof is falling in and everything seems to be going wrong? How do you get your chin up off of your chest and keep going? Here are five easy ways to combat discouragement:
- Remember who it is that discourages. Consider the source. The prince of lies, cheating, deceit and discouragement is our enemy (John 8:44). Our Father is the opposite of all of those things – he is always truthful, always honest, always straight with us and always encouraging us. If you’re feeling discouraged, it’s not from your Father, but from the enemy.
- Remember your calling. This is the most critical. If God has called you into ministry then do not let anything or anybody deter or dissuade you from that calling. Remember the time when you became certain that God brought you into your ministry (Romans 8:30, Romans 11:29). He is most certainly mightier than any obstacle, problem or challenge facing you, and if He called you He is with you. Nothing can stop the man or woman that is following God’s leading (Romans 8:31).
- Remember God’s promises. The Bible has thousands of promises from God to you. The minute you’re feeling discouraged take 10 minutes and write down a few scriptures that hold significant promise in your life. Then print them out and paste them all around you – in your office, on your mirror, on your refrigerator door. Some of my favorites are Proverbs 3:5-6, Jeremiah 29:11, Exodus 14:14, Isaiah 40:28-31, Isaiah 54:17 and Deuteronomy 31:8.
- Remember God’s faithfulness. With God as our Father we not only have an incredible inheritance, but He is also the most powerful protector and provider. You are a member of the family of God and He will be faithful to protect you (2 Thessalonians 3:3). He has not missed the fact that you’re discouraged.
- Then, Remember your fellow huddle members . Others who are in the same ministry in other churches have faced the same issues as you. They can speak from experience and they can lift you up. Aaron and Hur stood alongside Moses and held up his hands when he grew tired – Exodus 17:10-13. Let a few of your trusted ministry partners in on your time of discouragement so they can help correct your momentary self-image problem. A good friend can help counter your feelings of inadequacy or failure or fear with the reminders of where God has led you in the past and what He has done in your presence. Genuine encouragement is not false words of flattery; it simply reminds us of how God has used us in the past.
If you’re not in a Small Group Network huddle, you need one. Join one near you, or better yet, start one. First, register to join, if you haven’t already. The Small Group Network is free to join. Second, login and find a nearby huddle. If there is no huddle nearby, create one. It’s easy and you’ll grow faster in knowledge and wisdom than ever before.
“Huddles” are support communities for small group ministry leaders found all over the world! Don’t go it alone, to join or start a huddle today click HERE