There are some days that I feel worthless as a minister. It’s on those days that all of my shortcomings seem to be glaring brighter than the sun. Those boring sermons I’ve delivered. The students who have left the church for the things of this world. My neglected duties as a husband.
The weight is almost unbearable.
Sadly, I’m not alone in this struggle. Pick up the biography of your favorite pastor or missionary, and you’ll probably find mention of this. All ministers deal with discouragement of some sort, though it varies in degree.
Maybe you are dealing with it right now. The thought of leaving ministry for another career is looking mighty appealing to you.
What are we supposed to do? How do we deal with this sort of discouragement?
First, remember that your ministry does not define you, Jesus does. If you are in Christ, you are a precious and holy child of God. Jesus’ blood has covered your sin and shortcomings, and His righteousness is now yours. It is when I stop applying the truths of the gospel to my own heart that I often become depressed. That’s because ministry becomes an idol to me, a place where I seek to find my worth. Brothers, if you’re dealing with discouragement in the lonely task of ministry, look to the One who has already “borne our griefs and carried our sorrows (Isa. 53:4).”
Secondly, determine which failures are due to your laziness. If you’re depressed because your sermon is not as powerful or as good as the one you heard John Piper preach, you should probably just accept the fact that you’re gifted in a different degree than Piper or (insert your favorite preacher here). But if you’re depressed because you preached a train-wreck of a sermon, which was hurriedly thrown together the night before, you should reconsider your priorities. As a minister of the gospel, your highest priority is the proper communication of the Word of God. Align your schedule with that in mind.
Likewise, if you’re blowing all of your time in your office reading blogs, checking Facebook, or watching all of the latest viral videos, you should feel a sense of guilt. That is the discipline of your loving Father teaching you to focus on the important things in life. Repent. Seek the grace of Christ to forgive your sin and to give you the zeal to work harder for the glory of our triune God. Then, labor diligently in your God-appointed ministry.
Brothers, ministry can feel like a lonely calling. But it is not. Jesus Christ has sent His Spirit to dwell inside of you. That Spirit, which led Jesus sinlessly through the lonely and demon-filled wilderness, will lead you through the ups and downs of ministry to your heavenly home.
Rest in Christ today.