If you are in leadership or ministry long enough, you will have seasons and moments of disappointment. It might be someone you are counseling that walks away and doesn’t want your help. It might be a leader who decides they aren’t on board anymore, and they leave. Some will create division or hurt in your life. Maybe someone is mean to your wife or kids. The list is endless.
What do you do in those moments? For many, these moments are when someone leaves for a new job — explaining how God has called them to a church that will be easier, with fewer problems.
I don’t think that is the answer. Instead, here are five things you can do when you face disappointment in ministry.
You’re still called. Remember that you are called to where God has you. The moments that are the hardest in life and ministry are typically when God is trying to teach you something, your church, family, or team. Is God trying to grow you in an area? Is there sin in your life or something you need to deal with? Falling back on your calling and the leader God created you to be is often one of the essential things to cling to when ministry is hard.
Stay focused in your area. When leading is hard, everyone else seems to have an easier time. When a Sunday is mediocre for you, go on Twitter, and you will find 20 guys who just had a revival while you preached to the sleeping masses. Don’t look over the fence. Don’t brush up on your resume. Don’t look up churches looking for a pastor. This isn’t the time — water the grass in your church so that it grows. If God wanted you to have what those other pastors are experiencing, he would give it to you. Faithfulness with what is in front of us is one of the most overlooked things when it comes to pastoring in an Instagram world.
Keep everyone focused. If you are disappointed, it will eventually bleed into your team. You, as a leader, must keep them focused on the vision and away from disappointment. Celebrate whatever you can think of. The energy that you bring to your team, positive or negative, will multiply.
Don’t sin. When you are at a low point in life, sin is right around the corner. Whether it is jealousy, gossip, or falling into an addiction, keep your guard up, be aware. Don’t fail amid disappointment.
Take a break. When you are disappointed, it might be time for a vacation. You may be burning out, running out of things to give those around you, and you need to get a better handle on life and ministry. Pulling back and taking a break is a great way to help gain perspective and be able to continue in what God has called you to.
Know this: disappointment does not last forever. Ministry can be hard, and there are many valleys along the way, but there are also many places of flat walking and mountaintops. Keep pressing forward.