Wednesday, January 19, 2011

"Overcoming Discouragement and Managing Emotions: Words of Wisdom From Mary Southerland"

One of the greatest hindrances to spiritual health and focus is discouragement. Although we may not openly admit it, discouragement visits us all. It is a demon that attempts to barge into our lives and consume our thoughts, shift our focus and drain our power to carry out the ministry that the Lord has entrusted to our care. For various and sundry reasons, women in ministry are particularly vulnerable to discouragement. The Lord, however, has provided “a way of escape,” and makes available to us overcoming power to resist discouragement.

Today Shepastor shares excerpts from Mary Southerland, a “Women in Ministry Motivator.” In her message, “Managing Your Emotions,” Mary clearly and candidly shares practical words of wisdom to help us combat discouraging thoughts and emotions that may seek to overtake us.

Read her message below and be blessed!

Shepastor Highlights Excerpts from Mary Southerland: “The Stress-Buster and Women’s Ministry Motivator”

Managing Your Emotions

You have probably discovered the truth that you simply cannot trust your emotions because they are unreliable, misleading and will constantly betray you. A church member verbally blasts you and rage consumes your spirit. Your ministry is in decline and depression slithers into your heart. Caught in the comparison trap, you find yourself avoiding those who have bigger, more influential ministries. Anger is a constant companion, finances are tight and rest is a distant memory. A sense of bone-deep weariness saturates your soul as your own heart ridicules the sincerity with which you serve. “You might as well give up. It’s no use. Just quit!” the enemy taunts.

At times, ministry may seem like the perfect setting for negative emotions to take hold of and destroy a life, but ministry is also the perfect setting for emotional control to shine. Control puts emotions in their God-shaped place, discarding negative emotions as the spiritual leeches they are while safeguarding and reinforcing positive emotions. I am amazed at the number of men and women in ministry who base eternal decisions on
feelings while seeking confirmation and even direction from emotional responses. I almost missed one of the highest plans for my life because it didn’t feel right…

My choice to obey God plotted the course for an incredible journey filled with purpose, a life of sharing God’s hope and healing with women across the world through speaking and writing. Had my emotions ruled, I would have missed God’s best for my life…

Emotions are a gift from God. While emotions themselves are not sin, the place we give them can be. Since God created us with the capacity for strong emotions, we can rest assured that He has a plan for managing them. It is a step-by-step plan that begins with our commitment to being honest and transparent about every emotion, especially the negative ones.

Step one: Identify the source of negative emotions. Proverbs 3:7 (NIV) reminds us of a simple but powerful truth, “For as a man thinks, so is he.” Negative emotions are nourished in many ways – by daily challenges, a painful past, hurt or rejection, an undisciplined thought life or Satan, himself. Some people qualify as “carriers” because they not only transmit negative emotions but constantly use others as their personal
dumping ground. In managing negative emotions, it is imperative that we identify their source and eliminate it.

Step two: Label negative emotions correctly. We are masters at mislabeling emotions because we fear exposing our true emotions will affect the way others see us.

It is time for us to take off and burn the emotional masks we wear because healing and restoration begin at the point of emotional integrity! Going back to seminary proved to be a spiritual marker for our family. At first, I cried every day and seethed in anger each night. I couldn’t blame God so I blamed Dan (husband)! I missed being home with Jered, even though he loved the seminary daycare and Miss Nancy, his incredibly gifted and caring teacher. I complained about others raising my son, even though Dan picked him up after lunch each day and kept him every afternoon. I resented having to work, even though my teaching assignment was at one of the best elementary schools in Fort Worth and my principal was a precious Christian man.

Gradually, God broke my hardened heart as I realized that Jered was flourishing in daycare as he made wonderful friends, learned how to adjust to changes, and enjoyed priceless time with his dad. Teaching school became a passion and, in many ways, prepared me for the calling I now live. Looking back, I now see how I gave negative emotions free reign. The result was wasted emotional energy, health problems, spiritual disobedience, and mental exhaustion. Do not walk that path, my friend. Instead, right now, commit to emotional integrity and discipline. God will surely empower that commitment.

To read this message in its entirety, visit

To read more about Mary’s ministry to clergywomen, visit her website,

Managing our emotions is essential to our spiritual health and God directed focus. Understanding our personal triggers of discouragement and points of origin can tremendously aid our decision to resist negativity and process through our valley experiences.

Do you have additional words of wisdom to share concerning overcoming discouragement? Do you have a testimony, question or concern? We want to hear from you! Post a comment or drop me an email at

Until next Wednesday,
In faith, hope and perseverance,
Pastor Chris

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