As women’s ministry leaders, we do our best to plan a strong ministry. We make countless sacrifices that often go unnoticed. However, we cannot please everyone and discouragement lurks in the dark. The enemy is just ready to pounce on us and “steal, kill, and destroy” our joy.
Author, Speaker, and Bible Study Leader, Martha Lawley certainly has plenty of ministry experience. Martha formerly served as the Women’s Consultant for the Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention until her family moved to northern Wyoming. She serves in her local church in various areas of leadership and is a member of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee. From her vast experiences in ministry, Martha shares three ways to overcome such discouragement leaders experience.
Sometimes women’s leaders expect that our pure-hearted ministry should be immune from serious difficulty, but we know from Jesus’ example and words, that’s not realistic or biblical! Ministry leaders will inevitably face discouragement from time to time.
Here are some ways God has taught me I can respond to discouragement in a godly way and focus on Him.
First, acknowledge ministry will be difficult. Jesus made this point clear when he said, "In this world you will have trouble (John 16:33, Holman CSB)." It’s worth reminding yourself of that during your down times.
Resist the temptation to throw a pity party. We all have a tendency to feel sorry for ourselves when we’re discouraged. This may make us feel better for a moment, but ultimately a pity party will result in deeper discouragement. Oswald Chambers put it this way: "No sin is worse than self pity, because it obliterates God and puts self-interest upon the throne."
Throw a praise PARTY instead.
Put on praise music to remind you of God’s greatness and to shift your focus from your circumstances to Him. Psalm 34:1 teaches us we are to praise God at all times – that includes when we’re discouraged.
Ask God to help you see the situation from His perspective. God always has something to teach us in the midst of discouragement. God tells us "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know." (Jeremiah 33:3)
Read God’s Word. Although we’d all agree the Bible provides the answers to life’s questions, it’s sometimes the last place we look when we’re discouraged. God uses his Word to teach, rebuke and encourage us. Try these verses for encouragement:
• Romans 8:28
• 2 Corinthians 12:9
• Philippians 4:13
Thank God for His blessings. While we may see little to be thankful for in our present situation, we have much to thank God for – His unfailing love and great salvation!
Yield your feelings to God. He never intended for us to minister apart from His power and grace. You can "Cast all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you (1 Peter 5:7)." Yielding the source of our discouragement to God will free us to continue our calling to minister to women.
It’s easy for leadership to become discouraged when things are not going as we had hoped, but how we choose to respond during these times is critical to God’s purpose for our lives. The same dark cloud that brings difficulty and discouragement also provides a perfect backdrop for the vivid display of God’s stunning glory.