ministry (and life in general) is so often discouraging.
especially when your ministry or church is on the verge of God-sized breakthroughs, the attacks through discouraging emails & conversations is about as predictable as indigestion after eating a garbage plate.
and it’s in these seasons where i remember how critical my encouragement folder really is. some days i want to pitch it all, or i think i should just give up. i truly believe the enemy sometimes wants us to believe that there’s someone out there better suited to do the job God has called us to do.
and that’s exactly when we need to be reminded of his call on our lives and given the encouragement to keep going.
do you have a place where you store and collect pieces of encouragement to breathe life into your soul during tough times?
many times in ministry (or in life in general) it’s easy to focus on the negative & frustrating issues at hand… and i know why that is – because they’re usually problems under our leadership that need a response from us. but i love what paul says in philippians 3:17-18. i was reading through the chapter this morning and it was one of those things that jumped out at me anew even though it’s a passage i’ve ready many times.
“Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.”
it’s almost like paul is challenging us today to start a new running list of the names of people touched by our ministries that are doing well and walking closely with God. to look at those names and read through them periodically. to be encouraged that it’s not all hopeless. that not all reject the claims of Jesus, but that some have embraced them and are living for Him.
sometimes i think if we focused more on the positive things God is doing we’d be more encouraged to press on through the difficult times.
it’s graduation season and for those of us in student ministy, it means popping from
party to party, trying not to get thrown in the pool, and politely staying away from the mayo-ridden salads that have been out in the sun too long (thanks Todd!). it certainly is an exciting time as we watch our students enter a whole new stage in life, hoping that they’re ready. but the question we’re all silently asking is just that: “are they really ready?” “did we do enough to come alongside their family to ensure they didn’t just graduate from their faith when they graduated last week?”
the hard thing is that many times, we as their shepherds have a gut feeling, if we’re honest, that they probably aren’t quite ready. that despite our best efforts and 7 years of our hearts, their faith just isn’t rooted deep enough… at least not as deep as we would have liked to see at this point.
and then the discouragement sets in. and we beat ourselves up. and we question our ministry paradigms. and we read books by disgruntled authors about the failure of modern youth ministry. and we question our calling.
if you’re there right now, i want you to be encouraged. yes… i want us to push ourselves and evaluate our ministries with our leadership teams and fill the holes. but do yourself a favor and recognize that in this season the enemy may simply want nothing more than to discourage us so that we go into september defeated and beat up.
if you have 5 minutes, can i encourage you to listen to this audio clip? it’s from dan webster’s leadership of the heart seminar. a few months ago i sensed our volunteer team feeling overly discouraged, and played this clip for them. it did my heart good to see the truth breathing new life into their souls, and it can do the same for you!
as i walked into the office this morning and sifted through the big, ugly pile of emails waiting for me, i was reminded of the power of two words that the volunteers serving under me probably don’t hear enough: “thank you“. being easter weekend, there was a boatload of events held in the church building, and one of the email threads was in relation to some pizza (go figure) and soda left uncleaned up after an event. apparently someone on a different team in the church had to take on the role of janitor and serve outside their calling. the culprit is still unknown and the hunt is still on… 🙂
what i’m NOT saying here is that we shouldn’t clean up after ourselves. or that we shouldn’t be willing to clean up after others. or that we shouldn’t send out an email to follow up on the oversight.
but i think we all know the reality that more often than not, our volunteers are way more likely to get a “why didn’t you clean up after yourself?” email as opposed to a “thank you for all you did this weekend” email.
an appreciated and encouraged volunteer is more likely to stick around long-term.
here’s the email i sent in to the volunteers under me:
Thank you guys for all that you do month after month for our ________. I don’t think we say thanks enough, but I’m so pleased and thankful for you guys and the “landing spot” you’re creating for our ___________. I know many times all you may hear is “who left the pizza on the floor” lol, but please know we’re grateful and appreciative of all you’re doing. It was great to see _________ there for the [event] the other night.
who in your world needs a little extra encouragement today?