Discouraged in Ministry? Here’s How to Get Your Joy Back

Are you discouraged in ministry?  If the answer is yes, don’t worry … you’re in good company. Most great leaders in ministry have had bouts with discouragement. One of them was the prophet Elijah. I was recently reading his story in I Kings 19 and gained some insight about overcoming discouragement.

So … if you’re discouraged in ministry … check out these steps that will help you get your joy back.

Realize that ministry is a series of highs and lows. Do you sometimes find yourself discouraged after a big event? Or do you ever get the Monday morning blues after a great weekend of ministry? At a time when you should be bursting with joy, you find yourself dragging?

No … you’re not crazy. In fact, it’s perfectly normal. It happened to Elijah too. At a time when you’d think he would be happy, he’s discouraged. He’s just defeated over 800 false prophets of Baal. He’s just prayed and seen God bring down fire from heaven … he’s just experienced a major victory … and now he’s ready to quit.

Looks what he says…

“I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.”  
1 Kings 19:4

He’s being attacked by Jezebel the queen and is running for his life. He feels defeated, discouraged and depressed to the point where he wants to die. An extreme high in ministry followed by an extreme low.

That’s how it works. You have the best VBS ever and then a parent complains about something. You sign up a new volunteer and the next day two of your faithful volunteers quit. You spend hours preparing a lesson and then the kids say it’s boring. You spend weeks preparing for an event and then someone complains about the one detail you forgot to take care of. You work hard to improve the ministry and instead of hearing “thanks” you get told about what’s not working.

When this happens, realize that the lows normally follow the highs. It’s part of the ebb and flow of ministry. This will help you keep things in perspective. It’s also wise not to make any rash decisions when you’re going through a low time. Low times tend to muddy your thinking and cloud your judgment.

Pay attention to your physical needs. Discouragement can come from simply being physically exhausted. Elijah had been through a major event and was physically drained.  ou can give and give and give until your tank is on E. A big part of beating discouragement is knowing when it’s time to re-coup physically. Notice what Elijah did.

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Dale Hudson
Dale Hudson has been serving in children's ministry for over 30 years. He is an author, speaker and ministry leader.  He is the founder and director of Building Children's Ministry. BCM helps churches build strong leaders, teams and children's ministries.  (www.buildingchildrensministry.com)