There are plenty of professions where it seems there is a disparity between what one does and how one lives. You may have heard the saying, “The cobbler’s children have no shoes.” This is perhaps because he is so busy making shoes for others that he doesn’t have the time or energy to make them for his own children.
One of the most important things we do in ministry is encourage people, yet I am constantly running into other pastors who are discouraged. The question begs to be asked, “Who encourages the encouragers?”
One of the most important things we do in ministry is encourage people, yet I am constantly running into other pastors who are discouraged.
The word for encouragement comes from the idea of “putting in” courage and comfort. This has to do with one’s heart and inner strength. What happens on the inside determines what happens on the outside. In ministry, we are called week in and week out to bring encouragement and comfort to people. We are to speak words of life and create an atmosphere where God can give them inner strength. As we are involved in this process, we gladly put our all into it. However, sometimes afterwards we find ourselves tired, weary and even discouraged. On top of that, if there are challenges you are facing in your leadership or personal life, it can really pack a punch. Again, who encourages the encouragers?
Our answer is in Scripture, woven and lined with encouragement.
In 1 Samuel, David found himself facing incredible trauma, loss, and pressure. His city had been burned. His family and the families of all his men, along with their livestock, had been taken. He didn’t know who did it, why, or where they had taken them. The stress, shock, and emotions were overwhelming. To say that David was discouraged would be an understatement. In 1 Samuel 30:6, we find that David “strengthened himself in the Lord his God.” I also love the way the King James Version puts it—“David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.”
As church leaders, we are in the “encouragement business.” We must know what David knew. We must possess the ability to encourage ourselves. Otherwise, we are doomed to a very short-lived ministry, or an agonizing ministry bearing virtually no fruit. That certainly is not what God intended. Let’s remind ourselves of some of the vital keys to staying encouraged.
We must possess the ability to encourage ourselves. Otherwise, we are doomed to a very short-lived ministry, or an agonizing ministry bearing virtually no fruit. That certainly is not what God intended.
There is a Serbian proverb which says, “Solitude is full of God”. Our answer to the encouragement issue is of course God, and solitude is full of Him. As a spiritual discipline, we must get away and lay it all down. We must get alone, Bible in our laps, hands empty, hearts hungry and experience solitude with God. Allow yourself time for your emotions and mind to settle and surrender. Don’t come to this place looking for a sermon. Simply and silently come. His presence will be sensed, and you will be refreshed and encouraged.
The goal is not just to stay full, but to live and minister from overflow. That said, you must limit your leaks. Examine your life, schedule, attitude and activities to make sure you are not creating leaks or allowing things to drain your courage and energy. For example, if you are walking in unforgiveness or impurity, maybe you have allowed a bad attitude to take root. Any area where we are undisciplined will encroach upon other areas of our lives. If we don’t catch leaks, we are like a bucket with holes in it…and we wonder why we are discouraged!?
It has been said that there are four kinds of people—adders, subtractors, multipliers, dividers. Your courage is linked to your company. If you keep company with negative, undisciplined, griping, sloppy, spoiled, prejudice, lazy, uninformed…well, you get the idea. You had better decide to keep company with adders and multipliers. Ask God to bring these people into your life. Find such people to chase after and listen to. Find people who are full of faith and full of God. Find people who encourage and inspire excellence and endurance. Remember that virtually all blessings come through relationships. Just as God uses you in the lives of others, He will use others in your life.
Remember that virtually all blessings come through relationships. Just as God uses you in the lives of others, He will use others in your life.
You must remind yourself that the laws of sowing and reaping really do work. That in mind, you will be more careful what and where you are sowing. I often teach our staff to “do not strain and do not drain” the people they work with, live with and deal with. We are here to be a light and a blessing to those around us. Further, because of the laws of sowing and reaping, you can expect that as you labor to bless and encourage others, a harvest of blessing and encouragement is coming your way. Proverbs 11:25 (NLT) says, “The generous prosper and are satisfied; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”
There are many ways to keep yourself encouraged, but these are several that I utilize on a regular basis. You must involve yourself in self-awareness so that you can take care of self-management. This is part of the ongoing price of effective, fruitful and lasting ministry. The last thing any of us want is to end up becoming stale, empty, and cynical.
Let me encourage you to stay encouraged! You must have the ability to keep yourself encouraged. Others are counting on you. God will help you. Be encouraged.