Skip to content
Need some Easter Sermon inspiration? Check out our Easter Sermon Collection Learn more
Go back


3 Questions to Ask When You’re Discouraged

Discouragement is highly contagious. It’s a disease that’s deadly to ministry leaders, deeply impacting our ministry effectiveness, motivation, and well-being. But can we learn something from discouragement? Absolutely. 

Unfortunately, we often learn the wrong lesson. You may think your discouragement means you need to give up on the mission God has given you. Or you wonder if you even should have accepted the call to the church where you’re serving. Maybe you’re tempted to give up on the church you planted. Sometimes, when discouragement is particularly high, you may start to wonder if you should have become a pastor in the first place. 

When you let it, though, your discouragement can drive you in the opposite direction—a better direction

Instead of giving up, let your discouragement prompt you to reorganize your life and ministry. That’s what Nehemiah did. I’m sure you know his story. Nehemiah, a Jewish official under King Artaxerxes of Persia, discovers the dire condition of Jerusalem with its crumbling walls. He prays for guidance and asks the king for permission to rebuild the walls. The king grants permission, and Nehemiah begins one of the most memorable rebuilding campaigns in biblical history.

By the time we reach Nehemiah 4:13, though, Nehemiah has faced mounting opposition and outright threats from surrounding enemies who want to stop his work. Everyone is getting discouraged. In response, he implements a strategic defense plan that involves arming the workers and repositioning them to better defend the most vulnerable parts of the wall.

Nehemiah tells the people, “Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows” (Nehemiah 4:13 NIV).

Facing discouragement, Nehemiah reorganizes the work. He had been doing exactly what God wanted him to do, but he realized he was doing it the wrong way. 

That could be you too. You might have gotten God’s call right, but you’re just fulfilling it in the wrong way. 

When you start feeling discouraged—but before you give up—take a moment to ask yourself these three questions about how you’re organizing your life.

1. Do you need to think about your ministry in a new way? You may need to have your vision expanded. That’s why it’s so important for leaders to be learners. Read a book, call a ministry friend, or attend a conference. Do whatever it takes to get a different perspective on your ministry. 

Don’t be afraid to try something new in the tough seasons of ministry. Maybe God is trying to shake you out of ministry malaise. Listen to what he is saying.

2. Do you need to review your schedule? One of the reasons you’re discouraged may be that you’re exhausted. You’re likely under tremendous pressure, and your schedule is beyond full. Your body may be crying out for rest.

Distinguish between what’s important and what’s not. Take a look at your schedule and see if you can cut anything out. Get rid of the clutter from your ministry. Not everything is equal in importance. The sooner you rearrange your schedule, the sooner you can focus on what really matters. 

3. Do you need more support? It’s no coincidence that when Nehemiah was restructuring the work in Jerusalem, the Bible says he posted “them by families” (Nehemiah 4:13 NIV). Why was that important? Nehemiah realized everyone needs a support group. For the Israelites, their support groups were their families. Many pastors realize the importance of community and even preach about it regularly, but most surveys show ministry leaders aren’t living this out.

You need a group of peers who you can level with and who will love you unconditionally. Lone ranger ministry doesn’t work. 

Some of you are likely so discouraged that you’re ready to give up before next Sunday. Your excessive workload is taking a toll on your family time. 

Don’t give up—reorganize! You might have decades of ministry ahead of you if you just begin to look at your life and your ministry differently. 

You can do this.

Related Posts

Subscribe to Rick Warren's Ministry Toolbox

Weekly Email for Pastors and Church Leaders

    We care about your data. Read our privacy policy.

    Pastor Rick Warren smiling