We’ve all had those times – a major change at the church, an unexpected setback, illness (your own or a family member), disappointments with volunteers, ongoing critical attitudes from some church members – times that can make us feel very discouraged and downhearted. How do you carry on ministry in a way that is glorifying to God in these times? How do you “keep on keepin’ on”, when you just want to pull the covers over your head? The truth is it’s not easy, but there are some things we can do to help encourage ourselves to press on.
1. Keep a file of thanks.
Look at the thank you notes and “we love you” notes you have been given by parents, kids, volunteers and other staff members. Remember those good times. Enjoy the compliments and kind words.
2. Keep an “Ebenezer.”
This is a visible encouraging memory. It can be whatever works for you. I have a corkboard in my office covered with pictures of kids, volunteers, thank you notes, inspirational quotes, and mementos of events we did where God amazed us.
3. Call a friend.
You know the one, the encouraging person who always has your back. Could be your bestie, your pastor, a special volunteer, or your mom. Give them a chance to help you hear the words you need to lift your spirits again.
4. Get off the grid.
If at all possible, turn off the phone, laptop, tv, etc. Go outside – get away from everything, if you can. Contemplate God’s creation, see His hand in nature. Let yourself be amazed at the stars and skies and the God who is so much greater than even their beauty and grandeur.
5. Encourage yourself in the Lord.
Make sure you are in God’s word. Check out the Psalms for words describing your deepest feelings (they’re in there!) and words of awesome worship and trust. Read the words of Jesus and remember that they are all still true, no matter what you are going through.
6. Talk to God.
Pray, even when you’re angry or exhausted or fed up or scared. He wants to hear from you, His beloved child, and He’s bigger than your anger, fear or discouragement and is ready to walk with you through your difficulties.
7. Praise and worship.
Crank up your favorite worship music at home or in the car. Sing! Especially when you don’t feel like it. Listen to the words and make them your own statement of love to your Savior.
8. Remember that this, too, shall pass.
Just knowing that eventually you will walk through this dark time and out into the light of better days is an encouragement in itself. Know that you don’t have to just gut it out or go it alone during times of great stress and difficulty. Try some of these ways to encourage yourself, and remember that “you are loved with an everlasting love.”