I’m not worthy. I feel guilty. I feel alone.
When I set out to complete this two week blog post series, I had already planned out what the seven sins would be. Those two weeks ended over two months ago and I am only half way through the series. A primary reason for the extended time it has taken to continue this series is discouragement: “I can’t do it because I don’t have enough ideas.” “My writing is lacking in creativity.” “Who reads this anyway?”
Discouragement can come from external sources, like pressure from ministry parents, failure to please everyone (more on that in another post), and lack of volunteer support.
Discouragement can also come from internal sources, like feelings of not being good enough, comparing yourself to others, wanting everything to be perfect.
Discouragement can choke us up and cause us to become paralyzed in ministry, afraid of making a move without judgement coming from someone else or from ourselves. Doug Fields says, “Discouragement may be the single most powerful feeling that entices great women and men to exit prematurely from youth ministry” (Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry, p. 41). I believe that. Discouragement can leave us feeling broken and useless, ready to give up at any moment.
But know this: everyone deals with some struggle, some issue, some kind of embarrassment at times. You are not alone. While we think we may be the only one who has ever experienced failure, whether real or perceived, we’re wrong. So many people, including the great men and women of all time, have seen struggles and been discouraged.
And this: find a mentor. Having someone in our lives who we can look up to, cry to, and go to for advice is crucial.
And don’t forget this: clear the piles. I recently went through the Inbox in my office, which has been collecting non-urgent letters, ads, magazines, and more since I started at CBC six months ago. It has been continuing to pile up and everyday stare me in the face and say, “You don’t have enough time. You can’t do it all. I’m proof of that!” Last week, I threw it all away. I can easily get overwhelmed and discouraged with a pile like that. We need to de-clutter once in a while.
For more information about discouragement in youth ministry, check out Doug Field’s book “Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry.”
What about you – what helps you from being discouraged in ministry?