Discouragement is one of the greatest problems facing pastors of small churches.  There are many things that happen that can get a leader down.  Unrealized expectations, you know, when you think something big is going to happen and it doesn’t.  Another cause is unkind and unappreciative church members who don’t always treat you the way they should.  Sometimes financial problems rear their ugly head and with no relief in sight, can really be discouraging.

  The list goes on and on.  Let’s face it, the task of pastoring a small church can be almost overwhelming at times.  The desire to give up and either go to another church or to do something else altogether can be quite strong.  Many time, from a human standpoint, no one could blame you.

  But the pastor, of course, must not look at things from man’s perspective but from God’s.  What is it the Lord would have you to do?  Remember the story of Elijah?  He had a great victory over the priests of Baal.  The Israelites had proclaimed their allegiance to the one true God.  But then Jezebel reared her ugly head and swore to kill the great prophet.  You would think he would laugh, considering the great way God had shown himself.  But instead he fled despondently to the wilderness, finally making his way to Mt. Sinai in a cave.  There God spoke to Him in the still small voice and told him to get up and get going—He had work for him to do.

  I think it is good for us to review that story from time to time as we face discouragement in the ministry.  The root cause is not what someone has done to us, or the state of our finances, or whatever else we may be focused on.  It is rather in the fact that, at least for a moment, we have looked at our situation from a human point of view rather than that of the Almighty God.

  So the first thing to do when discouraged is to look up!  Get your focus on Jesus and the wonderful God that He is.  Praise Him—you know He inhabits the praises of His people—so praise Him.  Let your heart overflow with worship to the One who has saved your soul, who has set you free, who has done so much for you.  Like the old song says “count your many blessings!”  It is amazing how this one little act can help you through so much turmoil.

  The second thing to do, as God told Elijah, is to get up.  He gave these same instructions to Joshua when he was on his face before God when the Israelites were defeated at Ai.  There is definitely a time to be on your face before God in the midst of your trial.  But there comes a time when God would have you to get up!  I am a great advocate of prayer—teach it and preach it like crazy because I feel it is so neglected.  But there is a time to get up.  And my friend, when you are in the depths of discouragement, even though it will be difficult, you must get up if you are going to get through.

  Last of all God told him to get going.  There was work to be done.  That is certainly true for the small church pastor (do I hear an amen?).  Part of the cause of your discouragement may be all that you have to do.  As a small church pastor myself I understand.  But you’ve got to roll up your sleeves and start somewhere.  There’s just too much that needs to be done to do nothing (which is what many choose to do).  You are the leader.  You are the man of God.  The souls of many are counting on you.  Get going and get to work.  Nothing will help depression like being busy doing true ministry.  Getting involved in other people’s problems will always help with yours.

  Friend, don’t give up!  God is too good and your ministry is too needed.  Fight the good fight with Jesus by your side.  You may not ever see the results you would like to see, but you will hear Him say “well done” on the judgement day and isn’t that all that really matters?