How to Overcome Discouragement

When you get up early on a cold, winter morning and go look at the fireplace, it seems that the fire is out. The ashes are gray and cold. But if you take a stick and dig around in those ashes, you will discover red-hot coals. With proper care, you can rekindle the fire that seemed to be gone.
This is the word picture Paul painted for Timothy when he said, “Kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you” (2 Tim. 1:6, NASB). Paul pictured Timothy’s pastoral gift as a fire that once blazed brightly but had almost gone out. Underneath the dull, gray ashes were still hot coals, capable of bursting into flames again, if they were stirred.

Pastors today face the same challenge. There are three things every pastor can do to overcome discouragement and rekindle his enthusiasm.

Remember the Lord of the Harvest
Paul said, “Let us not be weary in well doing for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Gal. 6:9). The law of the harvest says if you keep planting good seed in good soil in God’s time there will be fruit.
Not all fields are equally productive. You may be serving in a difficult place. The people around you may be hardened and callused. We are to work hard no matter where we are, no matter how great or little the harvest may be. Our task is to be faithful to God, to plant good seed in the soil around us, and to let God handle the amount and quality of the harvest.

Use the Right Standard to Evaluate Your Work
How do you measure success in the kingdom of God? If you attend a convention and a friend asks how your church is doing, would your answer be numerical and include nothing else?
The healthy church is reaching people for Christ and teaching them the Bible. However, in some churches great numerical increase is unlikely. All church fields are not equally productive. Do not measure success by comparing yourself to other pastors and churches. To do so only creates a sense of pride if you do better than they or jealousy, envy, and despair if you do worse.
Success in the kingdom of God is measured by faithfulness. Don’t compare yourself to others.

Trust in God
He is still on the throne. The work you do as a pastor is kingdom work-God’s kingdom. Depend on God for the strength to overcome discouragement. In 1 John 5:4, John said, “This is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.”
Discouragement is a powerful tool for Satan. He uses it to immobilize God’s pastors. But God is still God, and we are still His servants. Depend on Him for strength and encouragement. You are an overcomer.

(Adapted from Paul Powell, Shepherding the Sheep in Smaller Churches).

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