7 Ways to Fight Discouragement in the Pastorate

Matt Schmucker recently posted a list shared by Eric Schumacher on a conference call in which I had the honor of participating. Thank you Eric for serving us so well!

1) Meditate on Scripture, particularly on the Gospel, and pray. You will find in the Scriptures multiple examples of people in worse situations than those you are facing, situations in which your God worked in remarkable ways for his glory and their good. Meditate particularly on the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation. It is only through the Gospel that there is hope for the circumstances and the sinners (including yourself) that are discouraging you.

2) Talk with mature Christian brothers who will both comfort and correct you. Some brothers will agree with and feed your discouragement. Others will brush it off and tell you to get over it. Find a brother who will listen and give you Gospel-encouragement, which may often include helping you to see and address where sin contributes to your discouragement.

3) Share your struggles with the church. I recently shared some struggles with depression and discouragement with my congregation. I was surprised at how many people said, “I didn’t know you were depressed!” and “We had no idea you were struggling!” and “I realized again that I need to be praying for my pastor.” If a church member were discouraged, part of my prescribed medicine would be to share their struggles with the church so that they can be prayed for and so that we can bear one another’s burdens. I sometimes forget that even pastors need the church.

4) Read Ed Welch. Everything I’m reading by him is helpful, particularly Depression and Running Scared.

5) Sing. There are so many good songs, ancient and modern, that call us to reflect on the hope of the Gospel. Pick some and sing until Satan must flee.

6) Walk outside. Spurgeon said that a good help during a minister’s “fainting fits” is a walk by the sea. Handiwork displays the skill of handyman. Be out amongst God’s creation and remember again his skill and wisdom.

7) Enjoy activities outside the church. Believe it or not, there is more to life than the situation that has you discouraged. You have a family and friends that love you. There are activities that God has made you to enjoy. They are gifts of grace. Spend time with them and in them, with your mind focused on them, and the discouraging things will seem smaller.

(HT: Church Matters)

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