If discouragement is left unchecked, it grows. Self-pity is discouragement on steroids.
Self-pity chisels in stone what discouragement whispers.
It tells you there is no out. That this is the way it will always be. And it simultaneously tells you it’s all your fault and none of this is your fault. Paradoxically, you believe both.
Self-pity is dangerous because it moves you to the sidelines.
Living in a state of self-pity means you don’t need anyone to take you out of the game because you’ve taken yourself out.
It’s an incredibly effective strategy and completely counter to the gospel.
The final thing self-pity does is rob us of all joy. Satan can’t steal our salvation. But he can steal our joy. And he delights in doing it.
Don’t let him.
If you really struggle with discouragement and self-pity, last year, I did a four-part series at Connexus Church, where I serve, on how to change your mind through the work of the Holy Spirit. It’s called Playback: How Changing Your Mind Can Change Your Life. You can watch it here or listen to the series via audio podcast.
5. The Slight Crossing of Moral Lines
Occasionally leaders move from relatively deep obedience to an extraordinary moral breach overnight, but usually, it’s far more subtle than that.
As C.S. Lewis says in the Screwtape Letters, “The safest road to hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”
So how does this happen?
Often it happens when you start to compromise on the small things. Maybe you take a deduction you shouldn’t on your taxes. Or you get a little too close emotionally to someone you’re not married to. Sure…nothing happened. But deep down you know something is happening in your heart. Or maybe you just shade the truth a little in conversations to make yourself or the situation look better than they really do.
The first moral lapse is always the hardest. Then it gets easier from there.
You may be asking God for more in your life or leadership, but whenever you ask God for more, he usually asks you what you’re doing with what he’s already given you.
If you’re not faithful in the little things, you won’t be faithful in the bigger things.
Obedience may seem boring or inconvenient in the short-term, but it’s richly and deeply satisfying in the long term.
If you refuse to compromise now, it becomes much easier to resist compromise in the future.
What Do You See?
Those are five strategies I regularly see at work in my own life and that I see other church leaders battling against.
Again, knowing what they are is half the battle. If you don’t recognize Satan’s strategies, it’s hard to defeat them. But once you see them and hold them up to the light, they lose their power.
Obviously, this is a short list. What other strategies do you see? How are you combating them?