Pastors' Forum


Responding to Discouragement

What do you do when you find yourself facing discouragement? I know that praying and reading the Bible are typical responses, but how specifically do you pray, and are there particular areas of Scripture on which you focus? Also, do you have any strategies beyond Bible reading and prayer that you implement to bring yourself back into a state of encouragement?


Pastor Jim Graff – Victoria, TX

I’ve found that finding the cure for discouragement starts with clearly understanding the cause of our discouragement. Is it fear? Is it failure? Is it fatigue?

If it is fear, my freedom generally comes through prayer and study. It is amazing, how learning from someone who has overcome what we fear, strengthens us to overcome discouragement. Sometimes general bible study is enough. Other times, truth shared through someone who serves as an example helps. Prayer that brings our heart in touch with the Holy Spirit always helps.

If it is failure, a sabbatical may be needed. I’ve had to slow my schedule down, to give my heart time to gain confidence in an area failure brought discouragement. I’ve seldom needed more than my Sabbath and regularly scheduled vacations. But if it became necessary, slowing down is better than making a huge mistake that can be made because of discouragement.

If it is fatigue, it is good to examine the balance of your life and schedule. We all need a day off and time for recreation. It is how we get refreshed or recreated inside. It is good to reexamine our balance regularly too. Priorities and practices need to change as we grow through the seasons of life with our family, friends, and church leaders.

Pastor Jay Adkins – Danville, KY

I have dealt with this on several occasions.


This has helped me tremendously. When depression tries to set in and I become extremely discouraged, I have found that I cannot think the negative away. I must act! Here is my method of action.

1. Write down actual problem(s). 

This helps me, because often, I magnify the problem as I meditate on it (worry = meditation on the negative possibilities). When I write it down, the issue becomes clear and often back down to its correct size.

2. Exercise daily.

When discouragement comes, physical exercise becomes a premium. The release of endorphins, the release of stress, and the positive habit become a path out of living in the mental arena to allowing physical action to help bring about a positive change. When you are depressed, you don’t feel like exercising, so you must force yourself to do it by scheduling it and writing it down. Keep track of results. At any age, at any level of physical development, this action will help overcome discouragement.

3. Develop and maintain a daily schedule.

I don’t live on a schedule normally, but when discouragement comes, I have learned to get out my calendar and schedule EVERYTHING: Bible time, prayer time, dinner with friends, entertainment, etc. I schedule in things that add to my joy and remove things that take away from my joy (when possible).

“A man’s success is hidden in his daily habits.”

The development of a strong daily habit has been a blessing to ward off depression when it tries to intrude on my life.

4. Pray

Whatever it takes to pray, pray! Get a prayer partner. Schedule in prayer time. Pray 3x/day like Daniel (Daniel 6). Preach a sermon on prayer, and let your own words break you through.

You don’t feel like praying when you are discouraged, but remember, actions are more powerful than emotions.

Pastor Frank Santora – New Milford, CT

As a pastor, it’s easy to feel discouraged. Church attendance is not as high as you’d like, the church is not growing as fast as you thought; or worse yet, attendance drops, finances are struggling along, people and staff problems that we take personally—the list goes on and on.

I think we all know the scriptures and Biblical principles we can practice to pull through, but what has always helped for me is having some go-to ministers who have been in ministry long enough to have gone through it all and have not just survived but thrived. There is simply no substitute for having that kind of spiritual mentor-ship. Someone once said there are two ways to learn in life: mistakes and mentors. Mentors are better. Just to know that you are not alone and that what you are experiencing is not unique and that there is light at the end of the tunnel is huge. What’s even more helpful is when a mentor shares a tried and true strategy that helps you to overcome the area that is causing you to be discouraged.

I remember a time when our church was about 200 people and the pressure I was experiencing was seemingly overwhelming and I wanted to quit. I called one of my mentors, Rick Renner (you may have heard of him J), and I said, “Rick, I’ve had enough. I’m gonna quit and go back to accounting.” He said, “Frank you can’t quit now—you’ve come so far. What so and so has done in New Jersey (and he named the pastor of a huge church), you will do in Connecticut.” That wasn’t a strategy but it was a word of encouragement from someone who I respect as a modern day Apostle Paul, and it provided me with the strength I needed to fight on. I’m glad I didn’t quit, because his words came true and God has blessed.

God can and God will do the same for you. Mentors are just better. I don’t want to seem presumptuous but it would be my privilege to speak with anyone who may need some encouragement. My direct line at church is 860-210-3602. We are in this thing together!

Pastor Kevin Berry – Lansing, MI

This is such a great question! Way to go for asking something that is so very real for every leader! What do I do when faced with discouragement? Well, I feel like I want to crawl in a hole and hide. At times I want to go to sleep and not wake up. Other times I want other people to go to sleep and not wake up. ? But those feelings have never helped me. Here is what I do that has helped me tremendously, and in this order:

I get myself before the Lord. I take the piece of paper, the picture, the report, the letter—whatever it is that is discouraging me—and I lay it before the Lord. That’s what King Hezekiah did when he received a bad report that the enemy threatened to annihilate the nation. It was a day of great distress and trouble. He took that report and laid it out before the Lord. There he worshiped, poured out his heart, and asked for help. 

2 Kings 19:14-15
After Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it, he went up to the Lord’s Temple and spread it out before the Lord. And Hezekiah prayed this prayer before the Lord…

I then purpose to surround myself with very specific people. For me, that’s a group of intercessors that I meet with once a month. Their ministry is to pray for Renee and me. I share my heart with them and I do the same with the church board. I know that they will speak life to me, that they will prophecy over me. They will speak the mind and heart of God over the situation. One word from God can change everything!

Haggai 1:13-14
Then Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, gave the people this message from the Lord: “I am with you, says the Lord!” So the Lord sparked the enthusiasm of Zerubbabel…

Get my eyes on the vision! It’s necessary during times of discouragement to dust off the prophetic words that have been spoken over your life. When you feel like you are stuck in a holding pattern and are spinning your wheels, it will do you good to look at what lies before you! What has the Lord told you? 

Proverbs 4:25-27
Look straight ahead and fix your eyes on what lies before you! Make a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.

Make a plan. Once I clearly see beyond the moment and am fixed on the vision—what’s coming—I ask the Lord to help me develop a clear strategy to get there. I encourage you to do this; it’s making a straight path for your feet to run.

Come out fighting and get to work! I remember sitting on the couch in my office one day, feeling beat up. It was one blow after the other and the Holy Spirit helped me to see what was really going on. The enemy was trying to mess with me. I went from feeling like the guy getting bullied, to a mother bear that had been poked. I was ready for a fight! That morning in prayer, the Lord gave me some fresh strategies and that breathed life into me! It was time to go to work with more determination than ever.

Nehemiah 6:9
They were just trying to intimidate us, imagining that they could discourage us and stop the work. So I continued the work with even greater determination.

Take heart, my friend, you are not alone. You are among all the greats in the Kingdom that overcame discouragement and received the promise with faith and patience! Everybody wants the faith, but you’ll need the patience (Hebrews 6:12).

Pastor Mark Lillo – Monticello, MN

I’m not sure that I always identify when I am in discouragement. It seems that discouragement can either be a subtle feeling that creeps in unannounced or a sudden statement of unexpected bad news.

Unannounced Discouragement

Once realized and identified that I am unhappy and lost my joy, this will be a wakeup call that I am not in faith. I will remind myself what David said, “Why cast down oh my soul”… It is at this point that I decide to not be led by feelings but tell my emotions to get over it. It is at these moments that I will speak out loud what is good in my life. I will rejoice and even shout at times to take the wall down of feelings that seem to be crowding in on me.

The Presentation of Bad News

The opposite of what I want to see happen or hear—can be, at times, devastating. It is at these times that discouragement can occur. The loss of my courage is to me an open door for the enemy. My character is to reason and analyze over and over what my options are or how do I fix this. It usually is at this point when it becomes apparent that I am not in control. My answers and help aren’t in a person or what I can do, but in my Heavenly Father who has called me. The moment I begin to put pressure and possibly try to manipulate someone or something, I am out of faith. My faith is in Him, not someone else or even myself. I then remember all the other times the Lord has been faithful!

It does help to get away and do a physical project, exercise, or take a break—even if it’s lunch. A vacation can be needed; even an overnight 2 days away can give me a new perspective. It can be a daily rut and the same environment that can bring a bleak, discouraged feeling. Getting away lends to a new perspective that has often given me a new mindset that allows my heart to hear in a new way what the Lord has been saying all along.

Pastor Bill Anzevino – Industry, PA

To me, the classic example of encouraging oneself when challenged by discouragement is found in the life of David at Ziklag (1 Samuel 30:6)When everyone and everything was  against him, and before asking God for direction, David encouraged himself in the Lord. The Targum reads, “He strengthened himself in the Word of the Lord His God.” He reminded himself of God’s love, of His promises, and faithfulness to keep His promises, and of past deliverances. The Psalms of David enlighten us as to how he encouraged himself.

Psalms 42:5
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.

Psalms 27:1
The Lord is my light and my salvation: whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Psalms 42:11 (KJV)
….for I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

Whenever I sense discouragement trying to come on me, I follow David’s example and resist it by confessing the Word over my life. This is what God told Joshua to do as well (Joshua 1:6-9). Joshua was commanded to be strong and of a good courage. Evidently, discouragement is something we must stand against and refuse to accept in our lives.

Joshua 1:9
Have I not commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage…

If you need anything further, please feel free to contact me here at Christian Assembly (724) 643-8885. Have a very blessed day.

Pastor Duane Hanson – St. Paul, MN

When I find myself being tempted with discouragement, I always begin by examining my own heart. In most cases, I’ve probably set some unrealistic expectations on either a person, a project, or my own performance.

Dwelling on the disappointments of life and ministry will certainly lead us down the path to discouragement. Dealing with the disappointment right up front, by putting any shortcomings into perspective, will alleviate the pressure that many times is self-inflicted. However, if you recognize that others, or even the enemy, have imposed their expectations on you, then get before The Lord and confirm what His will might be in that situation.

We’ve all heard teachings about David, that when he faced difficult challenges, such as Goliath, he rehearsed the victories that the Lord had given him. 

1 Samuel 17:32-37 (KJV)
The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, He will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine.

When everyone turned against David and his life was threatened, he encouraged himself in the Lord.

1 Samuel 30:6 (AMP)
David was greatly distressed, for the men spoke of stoning him because the souls of them all were bitterly grieved, each man for his sons and daughters. But David encouraged and strengthened himself in the Lord his God.

We also know from many of the Psalms David wrote that he would rehearse the greatness of God and exalt the Lord above the difficult circumstances he was facing!

Psalms 42:6 (MSG)
When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse everything I know of you, From Jordan depths to Hermon heights, including Mount Mizar.

God also instructed Israel to “rehearse the righteous acts of the Lord” (Judges 5:11).

Even Jesus was strengthened and encouraged when He engaged in ministry activities that glorified His Father! Jesus was hungry, tired and exhausted when He met the woman at the well. However, by the time His disciples returned with some food, they were amazed to find Him refreshed and strengthened, and Jesus turned around and encouraged them with the truth!

John 4:1-42 (AMP)
…But He assured them, I have food (nourishment) to eat of which you know nothing and have no idea. So the disciples said one to another, Has someone brought Him something to eat? Jesus said to them, My food (nourishment) is to do the will (pleasure) of Him Who sent Me and to accomplish and completely finish His work…

When you find yourself being tempted with discouragement, remind yourself of what The Lord has already done to bring you this far. Examine your own heart and confirm that you’re doing His will, and have not allowed others, or yourself, to put unrealistic expectations on you. Then rehearse some victories “in the Lord” and remind the enemy that he’s the one that should be disappointed, and that he should be discouraged that you didn’t take the bait!

Finally, if you feel discouraged by the uncertainties and circumstances of life, find those who are of “like precious faith” and spend time with them, both sharing and receiving from them, as Paul instructed the Church to do.

Romans 1:11-12
For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established—that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.

Pastor Barry Fredericks – Newtown, CT

I saw a sign, “A bad day fishing is better than a good day at the office.” I said that because the work of the ministry is the greatest honor. There would be challenges in any endeavor, but we have the privilege of making our living doing the work of the Lord. Challenges are a given, but if our attitude is always one of tremendous gratitude to the Lord for putting us in the ministry, then discouragement has a tough time getting on us.

We have been pastoring for a long time (32+ years). In 1990 we had a severe challenge when some people in the church rebelled. It rocked us for several months, but the Lord saw us through. We learned some very important lessons about dealing with a situation quickly. There have been other challenges along the way, but we have learned to have faith in the Lord who has called us to pastor this church. The longer you are in ministry, the less discouraging a situation becomes. The Lord has seen us through time and time again and He will always be there.

We are very comfortable in the ministry the Lord has given us. We made decisions long ago about the spiritual direction of the church. We are busy each day doing the work of the ministry and have learned that people are people. We will teach them, love them, and help them as best as we can. If they choose to leave, we know that before the Lord, we have done all we could to help them. That helps us fight discouragement.

My wife, Sheila, is ordained and works side-by-side with me. We encourage each other in difficult times. We have been there before and came through, and we’ll do so again.

Quiet fellowship with the Lord helps me. Over the years I have come to know very well that the Lord loves me. Talking to Him, telling Him I trust Him, thanking Him for His love and help goes a long way in removing discouragement or fear.

I remember that Brother Hagin made the decision that he would not worry about anything. If he could do that, so can I. I may not do it perfectly, but I can cast my cares on the Lord because He cares for me. Also reading after George Muller has been a great blessing. His faith and trust in the Lord, never asking anyone for help, relying solely on the Lord is a great inspiration. If the Lord came through time and time again for Rev. Muller, He will do so for us as well.

Pastor Thom Fields – Kennewick, WA

When dealing with discouragement, I find that screaming at the top of my lungs while sticking my head out of the window at 97 miles per hour as I’m driving through the church parking lot directly after a service is quite enjoyable! It tends to create “other issues,” however, and for that reason alone, I suggest you NOT actually do it.

I’m certain that there are moments when everybody faces discouragement. As a matter of fact, for the individual who has yet to experience a wonderful mix of disappointment and discouragement—GET BUSY, cuz you ain’t doing faith right!

Just remember that discouragement isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of unmet expectation. Those expectations can take some time! Keep believing, keep confessing, keep moving forward—just don’t ignore your discouragement.

Yes, you should be praying and reading your Bible and making positive confessions, even through your clinched teeth. But there is MORE you can do to push back against the force of discouragement!

Start by separating yourself from negative people. Reach out to relationships that are life-giving. Even if you have to pack up and travel, get yourself around people who believe God and who believe in you! It will be a great help if you have prepared these relationships in advance. If you don’t know who you could run to in the middle of a hail storm, START TODAY by investing in some great relationships.

The Bible teaches us that, a “friend loves at all times and a BROTHER IS BORN FOR ADVERSITY.” Adversity is almost always the instigator of discouragement. During these difficult times YOU NEED A BROTHER! These relationships don’t come easy or quickly, but THEY’RE NEEDED. Attempting to handle discouragement alone is a big mistake and almost always opens the doors to even greater discouragement.

Next time you have the opportunity to attend Camp Meeting, for example, make a point of searching out “like-minded” relationships that you can sow into. Refuse to let these opportunities just drift by. Get busy! Philippians 2 in The Message reads this way, “Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been DELIVERED from a great attack of discouragement simply by getting around “deep-spirited friends!” I’ve attempted to deal with these struggles on my own, almost always to no avail. I truly believe that you won’t get very far on your own, either. Proverbs 18:1 says, “He who willingly isolates himself from God OR MAN, seeks his own desire and is void of sound judgement.” In layman terms, “that guy is an idiot!”

You might as well get ready; discouragement will more than likely visit you. To be ready, DON’T DO LIFE ALONE!

Pastor Gene Druktenis – Santa Fe, NM

For me personally, I watch very carefully my attitude. If I sense at all a poor attitude creeping in (and that could be because of a very wide array of things such as finances, membership, people talking or just plain tired etc.), I work at keeping that straight between the Lord and myself and then “discouragement” can’t find a place in me. Webster says that an attitude is a mental or moral disposition and an attitude can be changed only with the cooperation of the one with the attitude.

David encouraged himself in the Lord. 1 Samuel 30:6

Pastor Jesse Zepeda – Pflugerville, TX

When discouragement comes (and it will), I have to trust the Word of God and His Holy Spirit. The more Word we know, the more Jesus we know.

I also have some devotionals that come with Scripture. This is one way the Lord confirms encouragement.

2 Chron. 15:7  (NAS)
Do not lose courage

2 Chron 20:17  (TLB)
Do not be afraid or discouraged

Psalms 34:2  (TLB)
Take heart

Psalms 42:4  (TLB)
As I pour out my soul

When the Lord encourages us, then we will be able to encourage others.

Isa. 35:3 (TLB)
Bring cheer to the discouraged

This works for me. I trust it will work for you too.

Pastor Dave Beebe – Albion, MI

  1. Be a constant encourager to other ministers and saints.
    • Give and it shall be given unto you
    • You need to listen to what you are saying to others
  2. Be open and honest about your struggles with your spouse.
    • My wife is my helper
    • The Holy Spirit often uses my wife to speak encouragement
  3. Develop an accountability friendship with another pastor.
    • Ask them to be honest and open in what they see and hear from you
    • Be in contact on a regular basis
  4. Feed on the Word and pray in the Spirit.

Pastor Mike Bang – Sioux Falls, SD

Discourage means, to cause one to lose confidence or enthusiasm. Discouragement has always been a part of life and the human experience—Christian or not.

Discouragement comes through many avenues, especially when it comes to loss and or setbacks. From the self-inflicted mistakes we make, to those circumstances that are often out of our control, discouragement is right there to afflict and torment you. And in order to conquer it, you have to confront it with the Truths discovered in the Bible, God’s Word.

The writer of Hebrews, inspired by the Holy Spirit said this,

Hebrews 10:35-38 (AMP)
Do not, therefore, fling away your fearless confidence, for it carries a great and glorious COMPENSATION of REWARD. For you have need of STEADFAST PATIENCE and ENDURANCE so that you may PERFORM and FULLY ACCOMPLISH the will of God, and thus RECEIVE and CARRY AWAY [and ENJOY TO THE FULL] WHAT IS PROMISED!

Now, Verse 37 gives us the promised hope of a response from God:

‘…For still a little while (a very little while), and the Coming One will come and He will not delay.

*This is not referring to the second coming of Christ; but rather the response from Heaven regarding the circumstances that have caused you to become discouraged.

For still a little while (a very little while), and the Coming One will come and He will not delay.

[or, the answer for your breakthrough won’t be delayed; it’s on its way, which is where the steadfast patience & endurance comes in]

But [until the answer arrives] the just shall live by faith [My righteous servant shall live by his conviction respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, and holy fervor born of faith and conjoined with it]; and if he draws back and shrinks in fear [allowing discouragement to overshadow what I have promised you in My Word], My soul has no delight or pleasure in him.

Why would drawing back bring such displeasure to your Father in Heaven? Because the moment you ‘draw back’ is the moment you stop your miracle from manifesting!

In 1 Samuel 30, after a successful military exercise, David returned to his home in Ziklag, which in the Hebrew means, “City of grief” [Most preachers have lived there at one time or another]; and grief is what David and His men were confronted with. The city was burnt to the ground and every family member of David’s and his mighty men were taken captive. And because their captures were so evil, you can imagine what had to be going through the minds of David’s men. In fact, at one point, they all wanted to do was stone him. Yet, David didn’t take it personally, but turned to the only One who could and would help him—God! However, he didn’t approach the Lord until he did something that was required in order to position himself spiritually to hear from God, and that is, “He encouraged himself in the Lord.” Then, and only then, did he call for the Ephod, and in prayer he called out to God; and God responded with the answer. Glory!

I hope you understand, that, when David encouraged himself in the Lord, he did it by faith, because every emotion he had was attached to the pain of their loss. The outcome was supernatural. Not one family member was violated or hurt, and David and his men recovered all (1 Samuel 30:18).

So, when you’re facing discouragement, you can be assured that, if you will encourage yourself in the Lord by faith, no matter how hard it may be at the moment, and then go to prayer, God will give you the same guidance and victory He gave to David. And why am I confident of that? Because God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

In fact, I believe the Apostle John had this very revelation of truth when he penned 1 John 5:14-15 (NIV):

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

In closing, I want to encourage you with what the number 17 means in Hebrew. It means “total victory.” So I am confident that as you stay encouraged in the Lord, 2017 is going to be the year of ‘total victory’ in every area of your life, family and ministry, in Jesus name, amen!

Pastor Steve Smothermon – Albuquerque, NM

One of the things I pray: I ask the Holy Spirit to encourage me in such a way that I know it’s from God. I also meditate on Romans 8:28. That whatever is going on, I believe it will work out for me.

The third thing I do is to evaluate my life. Am I getting enough rest? Am I working way too much? Do I just need a break?

We all face times of discouragement for a variety of reasons. I think it’s important to find the source so we can take steps to move past it.

Pastor Monte Knudsen – Mount Pleasant, IA

Discouragement is such a subtle destroyer. Without trying to sound cute or give a cliché, I want to define this enemy by saying discouragement is Dis-courage. It is your courage being dissed or mocked or belittled.

It usually comes in two separate forms: 1) from people, or 2) from a difficult circumstance.

For example, in Numbers 21:1-5 just after a powerful victory over King Arad, the journey Israel took was hard going. “The soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way” which was because there was nothing to drink and nothing to eat. Oft times we get discouraged because of the difficulty of our journey. Lack of funds, poor living conditions, poor diet, etc., starts affecting the courage we had when we started out to accomplish something. Just like in sports, when we get tired or thirsty and the other team seems to be getting ahead, we lose our courage to say what we are doing is worth it or the sacrifice we are making will make a difference. We start losing our courage.

Secondly, we get discouraged from other people. People often “dis” our courage. When Israel was going over the Jordan, some wanted to stay behind and start caring for the land and let the rest go into Canaan and fight. Moses said to them. “Shall your brethren go to war and you sit here? Why do you discourage the heart of Israel from going over into the land?” Disunity, selfishness, and fear are usually major factors that grip people and then discourage their leader (pastor). Without even realizing it, they are dissing your courage.

How do we handle such physical difficulties and emotional discouragements? Isn’t it interesting that the main message to Joshua from the Lord when he stepped into Moses’ shoes and was to lead the people into the promised land was: Be of good courage. Joshua 1:6 be strong and of good courage, verse 7 be thou strong and very courageous, verse 9 be strong and of good courage.

It’s obvious to me that God was well aware that both circumstance and people would try to discourage Joshua.

In these verses God reveals some reminders to keep our courage. In verse 6, his promise is a courage booster. In verse 7, obedience fills our courage container, and in verse 9, he is always with us and gives us courage when we fill alone and betrayed.

In difficult circumstances, often we simply need some rest or a break from the ‘grind.’ But in doing so, find and hang with a friend or family person who can help refill your courage through encouragement. This is what Moses did for Joshua before he died. Deut. 3:28 says that God told him to, “encourage him and strengthen him for he shall go over.”

When so many were ashamed of Paul because he was in jail, he told Timothy, “Onesiphorus often refreshed me and was not shamed of my chains.” You need these “refreshers” in your life; people who can encourage you and help refocus your heart and mind on something besides yourself. And, if you have no one like that, remember what David did when he was distressed. 1 Sam. 30:6 says, “And David was greatly distressed for the people spoke of stoning him because the soul of the people was so grieved. . . but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God,” and he also asked for help from the priest. Usually when we get discouraged we won’t ask for help. We often need to ask for help in carrying some of the heavy responsibility we carry. Our fear of being turned down or even being perceived as weak because we need help, keeps us from asking for help.

Lastly, don’t quit. Anyone can quit and many have. They quit because they lose sight of the reward. They believe they no longer make a difference. They are convinced it’s not worth it. Nothing could be more false. Every believer, every minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ does make a difference. The reward of God is certainly worth it. The people whose lives you have touched say it’s worth it.

Many years ago, a staff member wanted to call it quits. He had been overstressed from people and physically sick. I encouraged him not to; too many people had been impacted by his life. I offered to pay him 3 months of leave to get refreshed, strengthened, and encouraged. Because he was at a low point, I couldn’t reach him. When he quit, he was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and well wishes and tears from those who loved him. But it only fueled his bitterness. He felt they hadn’t been there when he was drowning, so why did they care now. Sadly, he had never reached out for help because he only saw it as a weakness. No one was able to pick up on his discouragement. When I personally reached out to him before he quit, he would deny anything was wrong fearing that would not be faith.

Please recognize discouragement as an enemy to you:

  1. Is this coming through people or hardship?
  2. Am I focused on God’s promise, obeying and relying on His presence?
  3. Do I have any encouragers around me?
  4. Have I asked for help?
  5. Have I forgotten what I am sacrificing for?
  6. Am I getting enough rest? 

Isaiah 41:28-29
Have you not known? Have you not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the creator of the ends of the earth, faints not, neither is weary? There is no limit to His understanding. He gives power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increases strength!

Pastor Herbert Bailey – Columbia, SC

Honestly, quality time praying in the Spirit usually does the trick for me. “Building myself up…”

Beyond that, I have a special email folder full of testimonies and praise reports from members and those who have been impacted by my ministry that I go back and read

Finally, I may even take a quick out-of-town getaway for 2-3 days (i.e., Sunday PM through Tuesday or Wednesday).

Pastor Brad Allen – San Mateo, CA

About 20 years ago, my wife and I hit a terribly difficult spot. It was really bad. We were completely overwhelmed, but we did what we were taught and it worked. The good news is that it all worked out in about one week’s time. Some things took a little longer, but God powerfully answered our prayers. Here’s what we learned:

First, hush! Don’t say what you feel. Say what God says. If that’s too difficult, don’t say anything. Don’t get in strife with people and don’t say something negative about yourself. Hush. If necessary, repent for the wrong things you’ve said.

Second, pray the answer not the problem. Pray the way it should go.

Third, praise God. Even when it looks really ugly, praise God! Praise Him because He is the answer. Praise Him because He is unlimited. Praise Him, because He is independent of your circumstances. Praise Him before things change, through the change, and because of the change! Paul and Silas sang praises at midnight and the chains fell off.

These three things will bring you out. God guarantees it.

The crisis we hit then was an extreme situation, but there are also small discouragements that come along and sap your joy and energy.

I’ve found that Paul’s admonition to pray at all times in the Spirit helps keep little discouragements at bay. I try to pray in tongues when I’m in the car or whenever I find my thoughts wondering into wrong areas. It refocuses my attention onto right things and keeps my mind and my spirit healthy.

Then, I confess my goals again. I say who I am and what I have and where I’m going. That can be difficult when you’re feeling blue,  but it really makes the sun come out again. When I do that, I brighten up pretty quickly and see changes in my circumstances, often within hours.

These are all things we know to do. When we’re feeling down, it’s hard to remember to do them. But take the first step and the next step is easier and pretty soon you’re back on top again where God wants you to be—seated with Him!

Pastor Chris Caton – Middlebury, CT

There are some “daily maintenance” things that I do that help me stay out of a “funk.” Some spiritual—some not:

  1. I try to go the gym 5 or 6 times a week and get on an elliptical machine or treadmill for 45 minutes each time. I use this time to listen to great and encouraging messages from my favorite teachers (like you!). This activity gets my mind completely off of the stresses of life and ministry, and who knows what kind of benefits this accomplishes internally. All I know is that I am a completely different person when I exercise. I feel better physically and have more energy, and mostly, I’m in a much better mood.
  1. I play a musical instrument (the bagpipes). I practice 5 days a week for 1 hour a day. My wife tells me that I am entitled to have a hobby that takes my mind off my stresses. It does, and I enjoy it (I don’t know what the neighbors think!).
  1. I plan down-time with my family. Dealing with the problems of ministry (and the people problems that come with ministry) can rob me of all my emotional energy and leave little or nothing for my healthy, life-enriching relationships with my wife, kids, and friends. In the past, I have allowed myself and these sustaining relationships to be cheated by giving ministry problems too much of my mental and emotional energy. There is a limit to what is needed and appropriated.
  1. In addition to daily Bible reading and prayer, I confess and pray Scriptures or “words” that are specific to my life and needs that the Lord has already encouraged me with in the past. Through the years, I have collected and organized those verses and “words” under topical headings like healing, family, ministry, or finances. Periodically reviewing sections of my personal confessions reminds me of what God wants to do in my life, and is doing right now. This is a life-line to me!
  1. When I detect a problem in my life, or when I sense that trouble might be coming in a relationship, financially, or in any other way, I set aside private time with God and ask Him to help me “handle this in the Spirit.” I work with the Word and the Holy Spirit in prayer until I sense that this problem has been taken care of. Sometimes I ask my wife to assist me in this prayer. I have found that this is the best starting place when dealing with problems. I can get up from that time of prayer and walk in the grace that was obtained and the wisdom that was given (as opposed to skipping this time of prayer and causing more problems because I handled the trouble in the flesh!).
  1. I set up regular times of fellowship with ministry friends, usually other pastors who have lived through the kinds of discouragement that come with the territory. We encourage one another. I need these friendships. We try to keep it simple—just meeting for breakfast or coffee once a month or every other month. Sometimes we have dinner and include our spouses. These friendships help me know that I am not alone and that somebody understands me. This has become so important to me.
  1. In general, I think all of this has to do with “maintaining me.” Praying by the unction of the Holy Spirit helps me stay on top of the problems that come with discouragement, and better yet, ahead of them because the Holy Spirit enables us to pray out our future. This prayer element is so important that I have found the motivation to get up earlier, just so that I have this extra time with God.

The reality is I don’t always hit all my “daily maintenance” goals. It is rare that I go through a week where everything turns out as I’d like it to. I just keep going back to these daily disciplines that I know are good for me. I try not to get hung up about any of it. I just keep going and try to enjoy the scenery along the way.

Pastor Gil Zaragoza – El Paso, TX

When our ministry hit a low point between 2011 and 2012, two products that greatly helped me regain our momentum in ministry were, “What To Do When Faith Seems Weak and Victory Lost,” which is a book by Rev. Kenneth E. Hagin. The second was a CD series called, “The Supernatural Laws of Abundance,” by Rev. Mark Hankins. Also, having a host of ministry friends helped us in ways that were very supernatural. At different times during our low point in ministry, ministry friends of ours gave us words of great encouragement at crucial times that were very “GOD-ORDAINED!!”

Pastor Dean Brown – Bronx, NY

The truth is that I’m rarely discouraged. But in the times when I’ve had to deal with it, besides, as you stated, prayer and the Word, I have two extremely close pastor friends that I will speak with. Those talks always help to lift my spirit and get me refocused.

In addition, if needed, I will take time away just to relax and have fun. Getting away when the pressures of ministry are attempting to get the best of me has always been one of the things that has kept me from getting cast down. If I don’t go away, I’ll just take a day or two away from the office to do nothing but relax, watch a movie or two, fellowship with my family, go bowling, or even go into the city and walk around and enjoy some of the international cuisine that my area offers.

Having said all that, the thing that helps me the most outside of prayer and the Word is having my two close pastor friends, along with my wife, and talking with them.

Pastor Ray Eppard – Staunton, VA

I have definitely dealt with difficulties and problems as a Pastor. I am in my 34th year of pastoring and have faced some pretty naturally tough times. I have dealt with three separate and distinct situations personally that created strong doubts about being able to do what God had called me to do. Ministry wise, the Lord let me know when we started the church, that things would be slow-going. I personally think He should have given me more information in that regard, as it was much longer than I had anticipated.

We have also faced three financial crises, two of which involved drops of 24% and 33% of our annual income. Then there are just the normal things that come along with ministry that create challenges and can affect our confidence and outlook. Through all of this, I have basically been happy, even though I have not enjoyed a lot of what I was going through (the things that were a part of these challenges).

I would say there are three things that I have done that have helped me:

  1. Understanding the principle of Hebrews 12:1-4—the emphasis being on the joy that is set before. I endeavor to stay focused on the vision and what is going to be and keep that in the forefront of my mind. When the vision is realized, it will have been worth the difficulty. The necessity for focusing on the vision, not projects, goals, or tasks, but the change that will take place in the heart and life of the people. The need to focus on these things cannot be overstated and must be a priority.
  2. This leads into #2 and that is the why of the calling. God called us to change people’s lives; to set them on a new course, to change their destiny—to make a difference. This is worth what we have to deal with along the way. However, if it is about us and the praise of people and what they think, then we won’t be able to get through what the challenges bring.
  3. I purpose to have fun. Laughter is a medicine—finding natural things to do that bring laughter and enjoyment is vital. What we deal with is way too serious to be taken too seriously. You really do have to decide to have fun—you can’t afford not to do this (this could range from funny movies, joking around with others, funniest home videos etc., anything that causes you to laugh).

Pastor Chris Pugh – Parkersburg, WV

Whenever I find myself facing the temptation to become discouraged, I’m always reminded of what David did when they were talking of stoning him at Ziklag. The Bible says in 1Sam 30:6 “but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” I have found that whenever things aren’t going the way that I would like them to, I just begin to speak good things over myself. I’ll declare things like….”I am anointed,” “I can preach and teach the Word well,” “my church isn’t full, but it certainly isn’t empty,” “God uses me to minister life to people,”….etc. I have found that speaking things like this will quickly pull things into perspective, and before long, I’m ready and raring to go.

Another thing I do, (which I believer Pastor Hagin shared with us at Rhema), is I keep a file of cards and letters that people have given me over the years. Whenever discouragement tries to come, I pull out some of these and read over them. These reminders that I have ministered to people, impacted their lives in a positive way and their taking the time to share that with me always makes me “feel better” in the situation I find myself in now.

I think that every minister faces discouragement from time to time. It comes with the call to ministry, since the enemy knows if he can get you doubting and questioning your call and effectiveness, he can put you on the sidelines. It’s up to us to make sure that when it comes, it doesn’t stay long. As Brother Hagin used to say “you can’t keep birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.”

Pastor Jann Butler – Tacoma, WA

Discouragement: “To sap or take away the courage of.”

In Ministry, we find ourselves frequently revisiting a place called “discouragement.” I have found a cure for myself, and I think it will work for anyone who is willing to apply the same principles.

The call of the Holy Spirit in my inner being called alongside of me.

AV translates it (Comforter). RV translates it (Comforter), but the margin gives Advocate and Helper and notes that the Greek is “Paraclete.” RSV translates it (Counselor). JB Phillips (Someone to stand by you). Ronald Knox (He who is to befriend you). Moffit, Torry, Twentieth Century New Testament (Helper). (English Comforter) goes all the way back to Wycliffe. Wycliffe used the word (Comforter) with meanings which modern English does not possess.

Example: Wycliffe translates Eph.6:10 Be ye (endunamoun) same root dunamis, which means (power) achieving ability. Tertullian translates it: An Advocate to plead our cause.

In Modern English, the word (Comforter) has to do exclusively with comfort, consolation and sympathy in sorrow and distress. But in Wycliffe’s time, it was more closely connected with its root, the Latin word fortis, which means brave, strong, courageous.

So we may note to begin with, that when Wycliffe translates (Parakletos) by the word (Comforter), he was certainly not saying that the sole, or even the main function of the Holy Spirit was to comfort and console, in our sense of the words. But he was meaning that the function of the Holy Spirit was to fill a man with the spirit of power and courage which would make him triumphantly cope with life. It is a great misfortune that the narrowing of the word Comforter has resulted in an undue narrowing of our conception of the work of the Holy Spirit.

As ministers, the Holy Spirit is the only means to face life.