Archive for January, 2015
What This Looks Like
When ministry is defeating you, failure seems to be at your door continually. Perhaps ministry seems like it cannot return to what it once was before this season. Simultaneously, the critics are making themselves known loudly. You struggle daily, trying to move things along positively, but setbacks seem to be your daily challenge. You look around and nothing seems positive at all.
You determine to bring things back and set your gaze on the future positively. Yet, questions continue, insecurity abounds, and you are really not confident you have it within you to do what needs to be done. You try, but every decision is like climbing a mountain and every emotion is hyper sensitive.
People notice you are struggling and try to encourage you. While their intentions seem pure, their words seem so futile. You have stopped believing in yourself and even struggle in believing God can change the situation. This makes their words seem meaningless.
Have you ever been anywhere close to this? If so, what did you do? How do you press forward and get through to the other side?
3 Actions to Take When Ministry is Defeating You
To be honest with you, I have been there. And even a list of actions may seem like I am trivializing the situation you may find yourself in. Please know, I speak from some experience. I have done ministry a long time and if anyone has a decade under their feet, they have experienced challenges similar to what I described above.
What actions can you take to press through to a new day, filled with joy, peace, and hope in ministry? Let me suggest these three actions.
Action #1: Take it to the Lord in prayer daily.
No, I am not trying to spiritualize the situation, but in reality, your present status is worthy of continual prayer. We cannot ignore the dynamic of God moving in your life, lifting you up from your present feelings, and placing you on the higher ground of faith. Our God is able to restore your faith, readjust your perspective, and refresh your spirit.
Action #2: Gain perspective about where you really are right now.
When you are under the cloud of defeat, it becomes increasingly difficult to see matters as they really are. Gaining perspective is just not as easy as it was once. So how do you gain perspective?
I remember someone telling me years ago: Just remember, things are never as bad as they appear to be, nor as good as you think they are. This is why you need people in your life that will be honest with you from their perspective. It also helps to have people that are not always in your fan club.
Additionally, consider retreating from the setting for a day or two, attempting to gain perspective by seeing things from a distance rather than trying to gain perspective in the middle of the weeds. I believe at times this is why Moses went to the mountain. Yes, to pray, to talk to God, but also to see things from God’s perspective. This is what every leader needs to do periodically.
Action #3: Determine you are moving toward victory and plan accordingly.
The problem with this defeat syndrome pastors often experience is that there are times we just settle in and begin to accept it as the norm. A defeated leader leads negatively, and negative leadership leads to nothing.
Change your attitude now, and chart a path for yourself that will move you forward to victory. In reality, the only thing you can change is your response to the situation. Sometimes the situation remains the same.
Listen pastor, a little perspective for you: Ministry is full of seasons. Sometimes we have winning seasons and sometimes we feel we are experiencing some losing seasons. Things change. You change. Churches change.
Determine now that you are going to ride this out and move forward with a victorious attitude regardless of the season you are in as a leader. You will have a miserable ministry if you let the circumstances you face determine your level of joy. Refuse to do that.
Rise up, pastor! Go forward! Set your sights on victory! Charge!
Yours for the Great Commission,
Ronnie W. Floyd
Do you remember your wedding vows? Remember promising faithfulness in sickness and health, joy and sorrow? If you’ve never said those vows, you’ve probably heard them.
Most who make those promises have no idea what they are getting themselves into. The innocence of married bliss and the fog of romance often keep newlyweds from thinking about the realities life can bring. Needless to say, it isn’t all sunshine and roses.
When Things Change
Sometimes life may seem the same way. We have grandiose plans from college to retirement, with little thought of anything slowing them down. Then, life sets in, and, like a spouse who didn’t pay attention to the vows, things change.
We may not have exchanged vows with life, but we still deal with sickness, health, joy, sorrow, richer, poorer, and the rest; Job loss, being sandwiched between growing kids and ailing parents, going back to school, dropping out of school. So many things don’t go as we thought they would. For many people, these unexpected changes bring fear. Fear comes with the unknown.
When Bad Days Come
Tony Evans reminds us in Bible Studies for Life, “We can expect bad days, weeks, and even months. They come with living on a fallen earth with fallen humanity as a fallen child of the King. But we’re never to define peace by our circumstances. That’s because we have a far better source for peace–and for courage. In fact, it’s the only true Source.”1
In John chapter 16, Jesus reveals to His disciples the coming of the Holy Spirit and what it would mean for them when He left. He knew they would be fearful at times, not always certain of what to do in His absence. In verse 33, Jesus said, “I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world” (HCSB).
Then, Peace Comes
Jesus knows the kinds of surprises, changes, and hurtful things we will experience in our lives. He experienced persecution and trauma, and we will as well. Yet, we can experience the very same peace He has as the Prince of Peace. In another verse He says, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful.”2
And, lest we think these promises are for the Apostles only, we can turn to the epistles and see they are also for us. Paul wrote to the church at Rome, “The God of peace be with all of you. Amen.”3 He also encouraged the Ephesians to keep “the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us.”4 The writer of Hebrews said, “Pursue peace with everyone,”5 while James reminds us, “The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who cultivate peace.”6
We also should not forget most of the epistles opened and/or ended with prayers or greetings of peace, specifically God’s peace.
Though life may not bring what we expect at every turn, we need not live in fear. Jesus gives peace like no other, and in Him we can fully trust.
Yours for the Great Commission,
Ronnie W. FloydSenior Pastor, Cross Church General Editor, Bible Studies for Life President, Southern Baptist Convention
1– Bible Studies for Life, Like No Other, Tony Evans