Ministry can be a very discouraging vocation. The discouragement can be caused by a whole host of issues: criticism from church members, lack of participation in worship, a church that seems stuck or dying, relational conflicts with key leaders, family problems, and even betrayal by ministry allies.
So how do we press on in ministry when times get hard? How do we keep going when we feel like giving up? In this episode I give five things to do to battle discouragement in your life and ministry. Forward this episode to any friends who are having a hard time. Let’s soldier on together!
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Alex Enfiedjian 00:00 This episode is sponsored by Planning Center The best way to plan schedule and resource your teams for your upcoming services. Besides hosting chord charts and mp3, and being able to schedule your band on planning center services Planning Center actually has seven total apps for you to use at your church. They have a giving app to make online giving easy, simple and safe. They have a check ins app for your kids ministry. They have a registrations app for events and conferences and camps and things like that. They have a resources app that allows you to know which rooms are available in your church and how many microphones you have in that room and how many tables are available for that room. And they have a groups app, which is for finding small groups and keeping them organized. And of course, we all use Planning Center services. And if you don’t, you should be it’s free to try for 30 days, just go to planning dot center to sign up. It’s an incredibly useful tool for you as a worship leader. One app you might not know about is the people app, which is completely free. If you’re using Planning Center services. This is an entire church database software program absolutely free already bundled in with your Planning Center Services account. So you can use this to track all your members, background checks, all sorts of things. It’s incredibly powerful. And it’s totally free if you’re paying for services. So check that out. If you haven’t, you can check all these things out at planning dot center. The first 30 days are free. Check it out, you won’t regret it. Hello, and welcome back to another episode of the worship ministry training podcast, a monthly podcast for worship leaders and worship team members. My name is Alex Enfiedjian, your host. And if you’re new to the podcast welcome. So glad you’re listening. And I want to encourage you to go back and dig through the last five years of episodes because I’ve tried to create a large library of topics that are focused specific and practical to you as a worship leader. So dig through that archive list and click download on the topics that would help you in this season of your ministry. Today we’re going to be talking about discouragement. Almost every worship leader I know has traversed through at least one dark season of discouragement in their ministry. Even just this last weekend, one of my young worship leaders came in the back after leading worship and started crying, she had forgotten to turn off her guitar tuner so her guitar was muted. Her ears kept falling out and she just felt frazzled for the whole set. But the funny thing is, it was actually an incredibly powerful time of worship, the entire congregation was super engaged, the worship team was loving it. And even the sound guy came back to the greenroom after the set to tell her how amazing it was. But in her mind, it was an utter failure. And she did a horrible job. Nothing we could say could help her see what a great job she did, and how powerfully God used her in that time of worship. And that is the epitome of discouragement right there. It just blinds our minds to what God is doing in and through us. Sometimes discouragement lasts just for an evening like this young woman. Sometimes it’s a day or a week. But oftentimes it can stretch into long seasons, where the going is tough. When everything feels like a grind, Joy is nowhere to be found. And you begin to doubt your vocation and your calling and your abilities. Sometimes this can be a sign that you’re maybe in the wrong church or that God is moving you onto a new season. And we’ve talked about that in other episodes, you can check out the interview I did with Mack Brock from elevation worship about when he felt called to leave that wonderful church. Or you can check out my episode on how to leave your church well, however, I want to say don’t be too quick, to jump to that conclusion that you’re discouraged. And therefore you must leave. Feelings of discouragement are totally normal part of life. And leaving your church should be the last thing that you consider. It shouldn’t be your default response when times get hard. I’ve worked at four churches now. And I can tell you, the grass is not greener at some other church, you will find problems at your new church as well. They will be different problems, but there will be problems. So don’t think that leaving will solve everything. I think one of the reasons the devil discourages us so much is because he wants us to leave, he wants us to quit. Because you actually are making an impact, you are making a difference at your church, and he doesn’t want you to stay. So it’s better to learn to deal with the discouragement, make the necessary changes and move forward in victory in faith. So let’s talk about some of the causes of discouragement. And then I’m going to give you five ways to deal with discouragement. So the causes there are actually hundreds of causes of discouragement. And I won’t even try to cover them all. But some of the most common ones that I know have affected me and my friends, as worship leaders is criticism, criticism from church members criticism from your boss, maybe it’s a lack of participation in worship from your congregation, maybe they just stand there staring at you every week. That’s very discouraging. Maybe it’s a church that seems stuck or dying. Maybe there’s no forward growth or no people being saved or nothing exciting really happening. It’s just kind of on plateau or decline. Maybe it’s relational conflicts with key ministry leaders. That’s
Alex Enfiedjian 04:51 really hard when there’s someone in your ministry that you don’t see eye to eye with and you’re clashing. Maybe it’s a worship team that doesn’t do what you tell them to do. They’re just not following direction. It’s super discouraging family problems at home gossip. Maybe it’s even betrayal by friends or ministry allies who you thought you were on the same team with. So those are just a few of the many discouraging things that we can face in ministry. But whatever causes the discouragement that you’re facing in your life, there are some healthy ways that you can respond to it. So I have five things here for you to do when you feel discouraged. And if you’re not feeling discouraged, right now, you will in a month, or you will in a year, it’s going to come so lock these five things away and put them there for a rainy day because it’s coming. So five things for you to do when you’re feeling discouraged. Number one is to remember that you were called remember that you were called you were called to this, when things get hard, we start to wonder if we’re the right man or woman for the job, we start to doubt. Maybe this church made a mistake in hiring me. Maybe I made a mistake in coming here. I’m not qualified for this. They don’t like me, why did they hire someone else, someone else, someone else, someone else, I shouldn’t be doing this. Right? Those are the thoughts that can run through our head when things start to get hard. But here’s the truth to remember. The truth is, if God wanted someone else to have your job, someone else would have your job period. If God wanted someone else to have your job, someone else would have your job. He is the sovereign King of the universe. He raises up kings and nations, he puts people in places he controls the cosmos, and Ephesians one tells us he works all things according to the Council of his own will, all things, all things work. Exactly as God wants them to work. He chose you he orchestrated the universe to have you where you are right now. If you wanted someone else to have the job, they would have it. So when you’re discouraged, remember this, you are in the role that you’re in, because God chose you, specifically you to be there. And whether you feel like it or not, you are the right man or the right woman for the job period. God doesn’t make mistakes. And he placed you in that church for this season for a reason. He wants to do something in you and through you. During your time there. He didn’t make a mistake, he didn’t mess up, you are qualified for this. And you are the one he called to this. So when you feel discouraged, remind yourself, God puts you where you are. God called you there and God doesn’t make mistakes. Ephesians chapter two says that we are His workmanship, you are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that you should walk in them. So just remember you were called to this and don’t let the enemy discourage you that they made a mistake or that you should be somewhere else you are where God wants you to be. The second thing to do when you’re discouraged is to patiently pastor, the people in your purview. Okay, patiently pastor your people, sometimes we’re discouraged because we don’t see the results we want. And usually it has to do with people, like things just aren’t moving forward, our congregation doesn’t seem to understand why we worship and why it’s important. They’re showing up late to the services, they’re standing in the lobby talking, they’re munching on doughnuts and sipping their coffee, they don’t seem like they care at all what you’re doing, you’re pouring out your heart on stage. And they’re sitting there passively and bored. You know, while you try to lead them in worship, what is wrong with these people you think, you know, so it can be easy to be discouraged at people, whether it’s our church, or maybe it’s even our own team, you know, maybe your team members don’t show up on time, or they’re not prepared, or they have bad attitudes. What’s wrong with these people, you know, you want to scream at them and you do and your head and your heart. But when you’re discouraged by the people that you’re leading, remember that they are sheep, and you are called to shepherd them, they need you to lead them. And that’s the key of this point is to patiently patiently and consistently pasture your people, people are sheep. And if you didn’t know, sheep are pretty dumb animals. They need love training and time. Love training and time. Say it again. Love training and time. Remember that people need those three things. If they don’t understand what worship is and why it’s important, then you need to shepherd them into that. Ask your senior pastor if you can preach a sermon on worship, or teach a Sunday school class on worship, or take a small group of people through an informative book on worship, like, true worshipers by Bob kauflin. And I’ll put a link in the show notes to that. If your people aren’t physically expressive in
Alex Enfiedjian 09:18 worship, and you’re like, why do they just stand there, then maybe you should Shepherd them by taking two minutes in a service to teach them about why we raise our hands or why we clap or why we shout for joy. You know, teach them about it. Don’t get discouraged by them, teach them they need your patient guidance and your shepherding care. And so ask God to let your heart be filled with love and compassion for them. Not annoyance by them. You want to be loving and compassionate towards them, not annoyed by them. So teach, exhort and train with all patients and you will see fruit over time. It really is a long game. It really does take time. So keep shepherding and you will see the results that you want. So that’s the second thing to do. When you’re discouraged is to patiently Shepherd your people. The third thing to do when you’re discouraged is to ask yourself, what you need to change. What do you need to change? And what can you learn from the discouragement. Oftentimes, I found that discouragement comes from criticism. And most of the time, there is something to be learned from that criticism. It might be criticism from your boss, it might be criticism from someone in the congregation. But the key is to listen to the criticism, really consider it, take it seriously. Maybe people don’t like your song choices. Maybe they say you talk too much in between songs, or that you look somber on the stage, and you have no energy. Instead of getting defensive, get humble. Instead of getting defensive, get humble. Ask yourself what truth you might find in their criticism, they might be right, and ask God, how he might want you to change your approach to ministry through these people’s complaints. Don’t let their criticism make you bitter, let it make you better. I know that’s cheesy, but there you go. There’s always room to grow. And criticism can be the catalyst to take you to the next level. So level up. Or maybe it’s not the Outer Critics, maybe it’s the inner critic, you know, oftentimes, we know and we sense and we can feel that something’s wrong in our life, but we just can’t put our finger on it. But something internally is telling you that things aren’t well. So my encouragement would be take some time and get a piece of paper, and maybe the Bible or just go and pray and sit down at a table with a blank piece of paper, and then write
Alex Enfiedjian 11:31 everything in your mind
Alex Enfiedjian 11:31 down on that piece of paper. It’s called a mind dump, and doesn’t have to be neat, or linear or understandable to anybody, but you just get everything in your head out on that paper. And it’ll help you to start make sense of your thoughts and your feelings. And you’ll start to see what needs to change in your life. Maybe you need to get more rest. Maybe you need to take a break from the internet, maybe you need to change your eating habits or repent of sin or re engage with the scriptures. Maybe you need to start dating your spouse again. Maybe you need to begin exercising, or make a new friend, someone who’s going to call you upward and onward in the faith. So if you’re discouraged about something internally, take the time to process that and figure out what it is. And then ask yourself, what do I need to do to change for me recently, I’ve been feeling super scatterbrained like life is overwhelmingly busy, and I feel super fragmented in my thinking, my soul feels shallow and distracted. And when I was on vacation recently, I had some time to process my feelings and figure out what were the causes of my shallow distracted thinking. And for me, it was too much screentime on too many devices. And you know, as well as I do that, so much of worship leading is communication and admin related, but I was just bouncing from task to task way too much. And it was taking its toll. So I made some changes, I switched to a dumb phone, a paper planner and my computer. That’s it. And I’m already feeling better, because I took some time to process and figure out what was wrong, and then make some changes. And PS, you should try it. It’s very inconvenient in many ways, but it feels so good to focus. The point I’m trying to make is that discouragement is simply life’s way of telling you that something isn’t right. It’s your chance to examine your life and see what needs to change. So ask the hard questions, and make the change. Alright, two more. The fourth thing to do when you’re discouraged is to remind yourself who you do this for, remind yourself who you do this for. discouragement can arise when we start to try to please others more than God. And we already know it’s not possible to please everybody. And eventually someone’s going to be disappointed with us. But we try to do it anyways. We want to make our pastor happy. We want to make our team happy. We want to make the congregation happy, or that loud and noisy critic happy? Why do we even try? Instead of worrying about the opinions of man, let’s worry about the opinion of God. Find out what God is calling you to do right now and work at it with all your might, because God’s approval is the only approval that matters. So remind yourself that you’re doing it for him. You know, if you’re feeling yucky, check your motivations. Why are you waking up at 6am? Every Sunday morning, week after week after week? Why are you at church all day, multiple days a week? Why do you do all this on top of a full time job? What are you doing it for? Who are you doing it for? If it’s not purely out of love for Jesus, then you’re gonna burn out your motivation matters. Remind yourself, you do this for him. You do this because you love him because he’s worthy of your time and your energy and your service. Because you could never pay him back for all he’s given you. And all he’s done for you. You do it out of gratitude for what he did to save your soul. You do it because he’s your Creator. He’s your sustainer. He’s your defender and your Redeemer. That motivation will never run out of steam. So make sure that you are doing it for him. And then the discouragement will dissipate. Colossians three says whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord, not for human masters. The last thing the last thing to do when you’re discouraged is to not give up Don’t give up when you’re battling a season of discouragement. It’s so vital You don’t give up because Satan wants nothing more for you to quit. Don’t let him have that victory. This season will pass and God will be with you through it. And in the long valley of discouragement, God will be the one to give you the strength and the grace to keep going. So find your strength in the Lord. He is the never ending source of strength and run to him for rest and refreshment. all you who are weary and heavy laden, come to me and put your burdens upon me and Take my yoke upon you. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. So go to the Lord cast your cares upon Him because He cares for you, and let him give you his never ending strength. Spend time with him each day. If you need to go on a retreat, go on a retreat. If you need to take a vacation, take a vacation, go to a conference where you can get filled up, but don’t give up. Don’t give up. God will never call you to something that he won’t also equip you for Galatians six, let us not become weary in doing good for at the proper time. We will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Ministry isn’t easy, guys, but you were called to this. So fellow soldier carry on. Fight the good fight, finish the race. Keep the faith.
Alex Enfiedjian 16:11 Love you guys. Carry on. I will see you next month for another health club. So thanks for letting me be part of your journey. Bye