I heard a similar story again this past week. Another pastor was in a difficult situation in a difficult church. When you hear enough of these stories — or more specifically, when you experience one — you wonder if it’s worth staying in ministry. If that’s where you are, here are some suggestions:
- Return to your calling. No matter what we face today, it’s usually hard to deny or ignore God’s calling in the past. Go back to the beginning for encouragement.
- Remember who the real enemy is. It’s not the flesh and blood people you’re dealing with. They’re sinners (perhaps, in some cases, in need of church discipline), but they’re still not the enemy. That’s Satan and his forces.
- Find at least one supportive prayer partner. Don’t walk through anguish alone; let somebody kneel next to you and join you in seeking the Father. If you don’t immediately have someone for this role, ask God to raise up someone for you.
- Invite your spouse to share your pain. Too often, we want to shield our spouse and family from our pain—but our spouses generally want to bear the burden with us. They really do love us with an undying love.
- Hold on to this truth: all churches are messy, but there are good churches out there. Out of hundreds of thousands of churches in North America, some are at least healthier than others. If you’re in a bad one, don’t assume every church is equally problematic.
- Cling to past life-transforming moments through your ministry. Ask God to help you see how He’s used you in the past and is still using you today. Just one or two of these stories of God’s hand will remind you that ministry’s worth it.
- Recognize bitterness for the idol it is. If you let bitterness consume you, you allow others to influence you negatively. Don’t let your pain become an idol that hinders your walk with God.
- Prayerfully consider if the Lord’s dislodging you from your current place of service. He might be — and sometimes He uses painful circumstances to move us in that direction. Seek His guidance.
Originally published at Church Answers
Chuck Lawless currently serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions and Dean of Graduate Studies at Southeastern Seminary. A conference speaker and author or co-author of more than ten books, including Spiritual Warfare: Biblical Truth for Victory, Discipled Warriors, Putting on the Armor, Mentor, and Spiritual Warfare in the Storyline of Scripture, Dr. Lawless has a strong interest in discipleship and mentoring. You can connect with Dr. Lawless on both Twitter and Facebook.