As leaders, discouragement can come at us from all directions. Income is down. Criticism is up.
Piles of work are scattered all over the place. Before long, we realize we’re engulfed in a dark cloud. But here’s the deal – leaders regularly face a plethora of challenges. It’s not so much what’s happening around us as how we characterize what’s happening. Getting God’s perspective will always shed much-needed light.
Years ago, a personal health issue had me in the pits. Between the pressures of work, medical appointments, and no sure-fire cure – I was pretty discouraged. I went home from work and cried out to God. He led me to 2 Corinthians 4:17 - “For our light and momentary affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” Wow. God called my affliction light. He called it temporary. And He said it was actually working for me instead of against me. Ha! That put a truthful spin on things!
Armed with fresh insight, I walked to a nearby schoolyard, marched around the border, and quoted that verse out loud. The faster I marched, the louder I got, and before long the cloud lifted.
Through the years, God has often led me to take very active steps against discouragement.
1) Level with God. Nine times out of ten, this is where you want to start. Unpack your heart with your heavenly Father and let Him minister to your soul, bring perspective, and align your thoughts with His.
2) Talk with a friend. This isn’t always the second step, but at some point share your burden with a trusted friend or two. Friends can hold up a mirror, so to speak, and help you see where your thinking may be skewed. They can listen, care, and pray with you.
3) Get in the Word. When we’re in a haze of dismay, it’s hard to see clearly and our view can become distorted. That’s why we need the light of God’s Word to push back the darkness and provide clarity.
4) Identify key scriptures. Jesus says the Spirit will guide us into all truth (John 16:13). As you’re faithful to focus on the Word, God will faithfully lead you to a Scriptural focus. Be alert to verses that stand out to you. Contemplate them and mark them.
5) Declare the Word. Whether you speak it, sing it, shout it, or whisper it – it’s important to engage fully with biblical truth. Think about it, when you declare God’s truth out loud, your mind, voice, and ears are actively participating. It’s a triple reinforcement!
6) Make a creative project. Choose a verse or phrase or word from Scripture, and use markers to write it onto colorful card stock. Add graphics if you like. This is a form of meditation because you’re pondering the truth as you’re portraying it. And it’s a visual reminder for the days ahead.
7) Jot down key verses. Maybe God led you to do a mini-study on the subject, and you found a handful of verses. Take the time to write them onto 3 x 5” cards, punch a hole in the corner, and tie a string around them so you can take them with you.
8) Walk, march, run. When we’re disheartened, we start craving creature comforts – internet, TV, soda, chips – anything mind-numbing and inactive. We actually need the opposite. Grab onto God’s truth, get up, and read it as you trek around your office, around the block, or around your neighborhood after work.
9) Remember God’s faithfulness. Reflect on God’s amazing track record of trustworthiness on behalf of your ministry. As you remind yourself that He’ll be dependable in this situation too, the oppressive fog around you will begin to dissipate.
10) Praise God. As dismal as things can sometimes appear in our ministries, guaranteed, God is not feeling down. He’s working all things together for our good and for His glory. Praise Him and think about His goodness and character. Watch it shine through the murkiness.
Discouragement breeds and feeds on inactivity, so being proactive in seeking God and engaging with His Word is paramount. When discouragement strikes – and it will – get into the Word, get the Word into you, and strike back.
"When discouragement strikes, get into the Word, get the Word into you, and strike back."- Lisa Hosler
What proactive steps do you take when you face discouragement as a leader? Feel free to share your thoughts in the Comment Section below.