I’ve been a pastor for more than 20 years and even now there are days when I’m tempted to quit. To be completely honest, I had one of those days recently.
I’ve often been asked how I’ve been able to stick with it for so long. The short answer is I’ve been able to sustain by God’s grace.
The longer answer is made up of several phrases I remember every time I feel like giving up. I’m going to share these phrases with you knowing they may not initially make you “feel” better. Rather, my prayer is they’ll encourage and empower you by helping adjust your thinking.
Romans 12:1 (NLT) says: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
Notice, the “pleasing and perfect” feelings that flow from God’s will don’t come first. Rather, changed thinking comes first. In other words, right feelings follow right thinking. So today, regardless of how you feel, read the statements below.
Repeat them to yourself. Meditate on them. Pray God will make them part of your thinking patterns. In time, they’ll help heal your hurts and help you make it in ministry for the long term.
You’re Not Alone
Every pastor struggles. It’s part of the deal. Satan wants to take every pastor out, so remember you’re not the only person out there with a giant target on your back. If you need to vent, call a fellow pastor and share your struggles together.
There Will Always Be People Who Don’t Get It
You’ll never be so good at communicating and leading that 100 percent of your parishioners will understand, embrace and follow the mission. People are broken, and Satan will do his best to exploit their brokenness and drag you down. Refuse to be dragged down by people who don’t understand your motivations. Decide now that you will not let grumpy people steal your joy.
Whenever these people surface, just remind yourself these people will always be around. Even Jesus shared this experience. Remember, the Apostle Peter was one of “those people” from time to time.
Sheep Bites Won’t Kill You
I remember reading a blog post from Brady Boyd once where he said, “Sheep bites can’t kill me, but the gnawing will make life miserable a few days each year.” That phrase has stuck with me and helped me through some pretty annoying times. When the sheep are biting, I try to think of it like a common cold. I’m gonna feel bad for a few days, but I’ll get well soon.