The Encouragement Every Ministry Leader Needs to Hear Right Now

Here are 6 ways to face hard seasons with encouragement from fellow leaders and pastors like you.
8 min read

When we face hard times, it’s easy to become discouraged. Here are 6 ways to face hard seasons alongside encouragement from fellow leaders and pastors like you.

Remember that it’s okay—and even healthy—to grieve. It doesn’t make you weak, and it doesn’t mean you’ve failed.

1. Remember What Is True About God and His Character

In tough times, it’s easy to forget who God is, and it’s definitely easy to stop looking to Him. But in those times, we should encourage ourselves and one another in the character of God. Whether we do this through reading the Word, prayer, conversation, or another outlet—it’s imperative that we focus on the truth of God.

He is a faithful, compassionate, and sympathetic high priest we can rely on! Is God able? Yes. He is able.

Hear from Your Peers

“Man, me too. I’ll proof your resume if you’ll proof mine.” I joke, kind of. I would do what others have done for me: remind me what’s true about God, ask for the Holy Spirit to minister to my heart, and ask me how they can practically help.”

“Point to Christ as a man of sorrows acquainted with grief and remind him that Jesus is a sympathetic high priest. Tell him to keep telling Jesus about his pain and rest assured Jesus knows and is with him. Might also share how Jesus has helped me, a fellow pastor, in my times of despair.”

“What I see in Scripture is that the more hardship presses in on us, the more we can CHOOSE to depend, increasingly, on Jesus Himself. When all else fails, HE never does and never will!”

“Lord, we ask for your strength, wisdom and rest. Help us to see your hand and blessings around us. Give us compassion for those who are hurting and those who are difficult. And give us wisdom in our words and decisions. We are weary and beaten down—we need you to hold us up. Fill us with your joy. Give us energy for each day and hope for tomorrow.”

“Remember Who you are serving and His Presence with you and reward for you at the end. Remember your calling. What is important, the core of the calling? The Spirit, the Purpose of God, and the Power of God are not impeded by what impedes us. The promises, prayer, and relationships work in all situations. Don’t lose heart. Consider the gallery of witnesses and Jesus Himself that we don’t lose courage or faith. (Hebrews 11-12:1-3)”

2. Allow Yourself to Lament

Portrait of a sad little girl looking away with sad facial expression by sitting in a public park
Image Credit: CiydemImages/E+/Getty Images

Give yourself space to struggle and grieve. As simple as it sounds, this requires you to give yourself grace.

Remember that it’s okay—and even healthy—to grieve. It doesn’t make you weak, and it doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It simply means you are mourning something. Maybe you’ve lost a lot this past year. It could be that you’re struggling through these new waters.

Take it all to God as He says, Come to Me, in Scripture.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30 NIV®

Hear from Your Peers

“Here are some major points I would make to encourage a struggling church leader: You are not alone. There is an element of struggle for all church leaders. Take time to grieve and to lament all that you’ve lost and all of the challenges you’re facing.

This, by the way, may not be a single moment of grieving. It’s a process, and you may need to revisit your grief on occasion. You can’t stay there though. At some point you’ll need to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and head in a new direction.

This seems to be the pattern of many biblical heroes—just read David in the Psalms. Take the time to connect with God. In times of trouble, we can draw close or pull away—choose to draw close. Give yourself permission to not get it all perfect the first time. Be willing to give and take honest feedback and recalibrate as needed. Be kind to yourself. Adjust your expectations. Give yourself grace!”

“The biggest thing that I have been hearing right now that I would (and have) pass on to others is that it’s ok to be struggling right now. They aren’t alone, and they have a support system in me. I’d also mention that it is ok to take some time for themselves to get rest.

The world is insane right now, and we’ve been going for months without much of a break—it’s ok to let some things slide and only focus on a few things at the moment. Give yourself some grace—in the midst of all that is happening, give yourself some grace. We give it to others—we need to give it to ourselves too.”

3. Pause, Step Back, and Gain Perspective

Children standing in rocky landscape
Image Credit: Adrian Weinbrecht/Cultura/Getty Images

It’s important that you give yourself room to stop and gain perspective on your situation. Don’t let the situation or season keep you down. Instead, take the situation and make the most of it.

Give God thanks for His faithfulness—especially through the hard.

Hear from Your Peers

“I would tell them what I have learned myself—it is in the dark times that we can find true inspiration. St. Paul was in prison when he started to sing. James tells us that trials work patience. That doesn’t make some people feel any better, but it is a promise that we will learn from our tribulations. God is always with us, and after the storm is over, we will be stronger on the other side.”

“There is nothing new under the sun—what we are experiencing now is not unique or unknown by our God. It is a season that is trying but will pass. And although we don’t have any idea what we are doing, God does. Lean into Him and trust that He has placed you in the position you are in for just this time and place because He knew what He was doing.”

4. Keep Focus and Remain Faithful

Don’t grow weary in doing good. When you see the good fruits of your work, it’s easy to stay encouraged and moving. But when you can’t, it can be hard.

Follow God’s direction for your life and your ministry and continue doing the good work you’ve set out to do. The good fruits are there, even when you can’t see them.

And remember, many times success is not measured by what you can see.

Hear from Your Peers

“Do not grow weary! Many of us feel like we are trudging uphill or sinking in mud. We are struggling, straining, and losing steam. But we can’t grow weary! We have to believe that this season is refining us, building muscle, and in the end will make us stronger and more resilient.

More than that, this season is stripping away things like comfort and confidence and really causing us to see that we need to rely on Jesus alone and serve Him alone. So, don’t grow weary! We are in this together, and this season won’t last forever!”

“God is faithful in all things, and we need to be also. Whether there is one child in the room or 50, we need to be giving 100% of ourselves to discipling. God will bless our ministry as we bless others.”

5. Foster Peer Relationships

Intentionally cultivate a part of a community of peers who will walk through this time with you.

It’s important that you make space for relationships with other leaders and pastors. Having relationships with peers will give you space for each of the items we’ve talked about to this point. And it’s important that you can encourage one another through the experiences you have faced and will face.

Having someone who understands what you’re going through will help you process and keep moving forward.

Hear from Your Peers

“I would say try to connect with other ministry leaders locally. I have a fellow pastor friend, and we did weekly Zoom prayer meetings with local pastors. These were a great source of encouragement.”

“What a timely topic! For church leaders who are also ladies, I like to schedule a couple things: a day of getting out and spending time together (shopping/lunch) to listen and encourage. The other thing is to schedule a ladies Bible study evening. Last week we used a RightNow Media lesson from the series, ‘What the Women Saw’ (lesson 4) which taught on the John 4 scripture of the Samaritan woman at the well.

How encouraging that Jesus broke every barrier—gender, social, cultural, religious—to give her that saving faith which led to great evangelism. Women often feel weary, and this account always gives me strength, encouragement and hope. We are not only noticed, but known, loved, redeemed, and given the gift of ministry. We are reconciled to reconcile! Sometimes we just need to be refreshed!”

6. Remember Self Care and Soul Care

Don’t neglect the things that personally bring you joy and refresh your energy. And, even more importantly, don’t neglect your soul’s wellbeing. If we begin to ignore our own needs, then we make room for integrity gaps in our lives—and we make room for discouragement and burnout.

Make sure you have space to laugh and find joy. Make sure you have space to spend time with the Father.

Hear from Your Peers

“I would tell them to rest in God. I would remind them that they are called for such a time as this and do healthy things to help them feel better. Basically, to do what they advise their flock to do.”

“It’s okay to not be okay! I would ask them what fills their bucket? What helps them feel closer to God? And now go and make time for that. I would encourage them to be kind to themselves and remind them that letting things go in this unusual time is fine—and even expected!”

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Rebuild-Ruts-Rhythms-and-Caring-for-Your-Soul

Rebuild: Ruts, Rhythms, and Caring for Your Soul

COVID-19 has brought added stress to many of our lives. Let’s take this time to pause and gain clarity on how to find rest in the midst of chaos.
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  Updated on April 21, 2021

About the Author

  • Your Ministry Spark Team is made of ministry volunteers, leaders, and experts who work with David C Cook. We’re passionate about helping others know, love, and follow Jesus. And, we have a big heart for those who serve the kingdom—that’s you. Together, we can do this!

  • Based in Colorado, Dark Horse Insight is a research firm that partners with organizations to help them listen with love to the stakeholders and customers they serve.

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