Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Shepastor Highlights: Practical Advice for Overcoming Discouragement

Stuck in the mud, having to convince yourself to get out of bed, “Is this going to be the rest of my life?” Days! We’ve all encountered them and if you haven’t, just keep on living! As clergywomen, many of us have had our fair share of those days. Being people and promoters of faith, it is sometimes difficult for us to “be real” concerning our bouts with discouragement.

An August 2010 article in the New York Times entitled, Taking a Break from the Lord’s Work, declares,

The findings have surfaced with ominous regularity over the last few years, and with little notice: Members of the clergy now suffer from obesity, hypertension and depression at rates higher than most Americans. In the last decade, their use of antidepressants has risen, while their life expectancy has fallen. Many would change jobs if they could.

Public health experts who have led the studies caution that there is no simple explanation of why so many members of a profession once associated with rosy-cheeked longevity have become so unhealthy and unhappy. But while research continues, a growing number of health care experts and religious leaders have settled on one simple remedy that has long been a touchy subject with many clerics: taking more time off.

“We had a pastor in our study group who hadn’t taken a vacation in 18 years,” said Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell, an assistant professor of health research at Duke University who directs one of the studies. “These people tend to be driven by a sense of a duty to God to answer every call for help from anybody, and they are virtually called upon all the time, 24/7.”

As cellphones and social media expose the clergy to new dimensions of stress, and as health care costs soar, some of the country’s largest religious denominations have begun wellness campaigns that preach the virtues of getting away. It has been described by some health experts as a sort of slow-food movement for the clerical soul.

In the United Methodist Church in recent months, some church administrators have been contacting ministers known to skip vacation to make sure they have scheduled their time, Ms. Proeschold-Bell said. The church, the nation’s largest mainline Protestant denomination, led the way with a 2006 directive that strongly urged ministers to take all the vacation they were entitled to — a practice then almost unheard of in some busy congregations.

“Time away can bring renewal,” the directive said, “and help prevent burnout.” (Taking a Break From the Lord’s Work By PAUL VITELLO
visit to read the entire article.)

Burnout and discouragement can go hand in hand. Today, Shepastor revisits words of wisdom from Pastor Rick Warren, Senior Pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. His article entitled, “How I Get Up When I’m Feeling Down,” provides down to earth, biblically based guidance to help clergy rise above the stress, strain and discouragement frequently associated with ministry.

Read on and be blessed!

Shepastor highlights: “How I Get Up When I’m Feeling Down,” by Pastor Rick Warren

How I Get Up When I'm Feeling Down
By Rick Warren

I couldn't count the times I've wanted to resign in the past 21 years at Saddleback church. It has not been easy. Can you imagine setting up and taking down an enormous church every week for 16 years? That's what we did until we finally built our own building 5 years ago. It was quite tiring - emotionally and physically.Nowadays, discouragement usually hits me on Mondays. Even though we have a building now, preaching 5 weekend services still drains the life out of me. But I know I'm not alone.

In speaking to the Southern Baptist Convention, Jimmy Draper once commented, "We are a denomination of discouraged leaders." I think that's true of all denominations. After listening to the feedback of the 172,000 pastors who've attended a Purpose Driven Church seminar, I've concluded that most pastors struggle with chronic discouragement.But there is an antidote! I discovered it in the fourth chapter of Nehemiah years ago. It has been a lifesaver for me to remember 4 simple principles.

FIRST, I REST MY BODY: The fact is - you're a human and human beings need to do human things - like rest and play and relax and have hobbies. Psalm 127:2 says, "It's vain for you to sit up late and rise up early." Sometimes the most spiritual thing I can do is to just go to sleep!

SECOND, I REORGANIZE MY WORK: Nehemiah did this when they were rebuilding the wall. When his people got discouraged half way through the project, he reorganized them by families, making specific assignments along the wall. This is an important truth to remember. Sometimes, when you're discouraged, it's not that you're doing the wrong thing; but rather that you're doing it in the wrong way. You don't need to quit the ministry. You just need to reorganize how you are going about it and learn some new skills. Try a fresh approach. Attack it from a different angle. Learn. Grow. Reorganize!

THIRD, I REMEMBER THE LORD! Discouragement is an attitude and attitudes are always a choice. I get discouraged when I choose to think discouraging thoughts. But no one is forcing those thoughts on me. I can choose to focus on something else, (like God) if I want to.

FOURTH, I RESIST THE DEVIL: The great pastor R.G. Lee once said, "If you don't get up in the morning and meet the devil, you're just headed the wrong way." We are in a spiritual battle, and the devil doesn't want the kingdom of God to advance. As a pastor, you're on the front line, so you're going to get hit. The devil will attack you with every kind of thing he can think of to discourage you. He is the accuser of the brethren and he would love to neutralize you with discouragement. James 4:7 says, "Resist the devil!" Don't give in without a fight!

You can't control the cantankerous or carnal people in your church. But you can choose how you respond to them. And you can choose whether you're going to let it discourage you or not. There's an old phrase: "Tough times never last, but tough people do." It's true. So don't give up! God is not finished with you! Rest your body. Reorganize your work. Remember the Lord. And resist the Devil.

God bless!
Your friend, Rick Warren
Saddleback Church

To read further, visit,

Have you experienced or are you experiencing burnout? Are you battling discouragement? Have you triumphed over a valley experience in your ministry? Post a comment or send me an email at

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

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