Overcoming Discouragement in Ministry (#3)

So you have completed a full day of ministry. You have proclaimed and taught the Word of God, perhaps as many as three to four times. You have praised the Lord with all your heart! You have listened to many burdens, heard maybe a complaint or two, and sought to encourage and edify many. You have worked through a power point failure during your third point, a crying baby, and on the way home, a flat tire. As you ease into your chair in the family room and take a deep breath, you can still hear all the “noise” of the day in your mind, even if you are catching up on Sunday night football and Facebook.

Be careful! Your mind and body are worn out! You are reliving the day. Thoughts of “what if” and “if only” and “I should have” start to permeate your mind. You are a prime target for the flesh and the devil to lie to you. It’s a set up, friend!

May I encourage you . . . and remind myself?

First of all, instead of listening to yourself, preach the Truth to yourself . . . instead of just to those who gathered to hear the message. You proclaimed the Truth with passion and conviction all day. Now, believe and live out what you preached! Rest in it. Lean hard into it. His Word never returns void (Isaiah 55:11). Your failures of the day are a good reminder that you are frail and totally dependent on God’s grace and mercy all the time. Your successes, and only God determines that, are what they because Christ worked through you to build His Church, to do His work, not yours. So rejoice in Him! Praise Him! Thank Him!

Second, start counting your blessings from the day and record them in a journal or on your phone . . . even if it might have been a difficult Sunday! Satan doesn’t want you to remember the goodness of God that you experienced through the day. Most of all, remember your position and identification in Christ (Ephesians 1:3-14). You are accepted in the Beloved (1:6).

Third, track your thinking and what you usually do on Sunday nights. Make sure it does not feed your discouragements. Perhaps a good idea would be to put the kids to bed, and you and your wife enjoy some time alone! Act like you’re newlyweds! Hold hands, kiss, cuddle, and enjoy the wife your youth (Proverbs 5:18). Encourage each other. And, just like Saturday night, hold hands and pray before drifting off to sleep. You need her, she needs you and you both need the Lord!!

Sleep well, friend, and . . . let’s pray for one another to choose what’s right by God’s grace.

You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.
(Isaiah 26:3)

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, . . . and be thankful. (Colossians 3:15)

Huffin’ and Puffin’

Okay, I know I am going today “where angels fear to tread,” but I do so with a right heart and one that desires to help.  We were called upon to help at the last second yesterday with the teen trip to Dollywood Amusement Park.  Denise and I love Dollywood, but we certainly were not planning on spending our day at the park with all the other demands upon us.  Nevertheless, we are certainly glad we went.  These teens were so appreciative and are a barrel of fun to be with in such a venue.

What’s my point?  Well, it’s all the people I saw today struggling to get around the park (and I realize that many have legitimate health issues).  They huffed, sweat, hobbled, shuffled, gasped for air, struggled to take a step, or rode around the park in a motorized scooter.  Now, please, I fully understand, and am certainly grateful for all who truly need those carts.  My aim in this post is to sound an alarm to folks who are much younger than we are—-to do what is necessary to be healthy!!  So, so many people who passed me yesterday could not enjoy the day, even ride the rides due to poor health. May I make a few suggestions from a loving, encouraging heart?

  1. Exercise at least 30 minutes-a-day.  If you can’t run or do a regimen of cardio-exercises, you need to walk at least once-a-day.
  2. Watch what you eat!  Oh the junk food at DW, and it’s good, too!  Everywhere you turn though, you see people gorging themselves on unhealthy, fattening foods.  I know its taste is so alluring, but is it really good for your body? Is it really worth it over the long haul?
  3. Do not think you are past the point of no return, and have even said, “What’s the use?”  You got to where you are bit-by-bit.  That’s the same way you can lose that weight or build yourself back up—a little at a time.
  4. No one can make you exercise and lose weight.  This is a personal decision, but you  do need the help of others to spur you on!  You must decide that your lack of taking care of your body is a violation of the stewardship mentioned in 2 Cor. 6:19-20, and you want others to encourage you and hold you accountable.  (Romans 14:5-8)
  5. Be consistent.  It is so easy to start strong but not finish.
  6. Split meals with your spouse or children when you dine out.
  7. Speaking of children, please  do not let them start out young being overweight and eating junk food.  Please teach them what to eat and when.
  8. Also, I am not suggesting that you turn your food intake to simply tofu, humus, and toothpicks!  Enjoy ice  cream, cheesecake, biscuits and gravy, etc.  Just watch your portion size.  Remember, the first bite of anything you eat, that you enjoy, is always the best.
  9. You will rejoice, feel stronger, and be more useful for what really matters, the eternal things of Christ.
  10. If you are a pastor reading this, we especially need to take off the pounds or keep them off because of our testimony.  How can you teach your people to be more disciplined in their lives when you are not, especially in the area of what you eat?  How my heart grieves for men who a make a joke about being overweight and eating like there was no tomorrow.
  11. If you are not healthy, then do so, not only for the Lord, but for your spouse.  I’ll speak to the men on this matter.  You want your wife to look good, yet you don’t take care of yourself.  What is wrong with this picture?  What does it say to your wife?

Now, again, I know that some folk have medical conditions that cannot be cured.  No matter, do what you can to be as healthy as possible.  Don’t give up!  To those who can’t say “No” to the temptations of food and laziness, I am begging you to take some inventory on your knees before the Lord.  I’ve been where many of you are today.  I love to eat; I love food; and I loved to “bat clean-up” with the leftovers on my wife and daughters’ plates.  Today, by the grace of God and making right, hard choices, 70 pounds are in my rear-view mirror.  I’d love to see you walk up an incline and not be winded  or bend over to work in your flower garden and not be worn out or be able to hike one of our many beautiful trails in this area or take the stairs instead of the elevator and be strong in the Lord!  No more huffin’ and puffin’ unless you just finished your first 5K! 🙂

So, what’s your plan?  Will you get started today?  Here’s a helpful article, Working Out.