"For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope"
(Jeremiah 29:11).

Genesis chapter 8
Ministerial Encouragement

Note: this teaching is for an active discouraged Christian Pastor, a discouraged Christian worker, a discouraged Christian leader, a discouraged pastor's wife, or a discouraged yet faithful minister who has just left the active ministry. Are you searching for ministerial encouragement? Well, read on and maybe something that I have to say will help you, give you an answer, encourage you, or keep you behind the pulpit.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Discouragement Apathy
A Dying Church Health Problems
Two Major Problems In All of the Churches An Identity Crisis in the Ministry?
Time to Re-examine Your Call to the Ministry Painful Childhood Flashback Memories
Family Problems Some Scriptures That May Encourage You
Conclusion  

You can tell how strong a person is by what it takes to discourage them.

Discouragement

My late friend, Rev. Lenard Griffis, once told me that he resigned his pastorship every Sunday night and had to re-hire himself every Monday morning. What I am saying is that you are not alone in your discouragement. Lots of other spiritual leaders are also. Discouragement is one of the most effective "fiery arrows" aimed at your heart by Satan.

The secret Satanic and witchcraft organizations have one target in mind and it is not you directly. They are targeting your wife. They think that if they can bring her down then they can bring you down also. It is an evil and insidious plan.

If he can bring you down from behind the pulpit then he has won a battle so don't let him. But if this has already happened then don't be too hard on yourself. You may have lost a battle but you don't have to lose the war...

What is the cure for discouragement? I have some more web pages on this very thing. The links are located toward the bottom of this web page. Just remember that God loves you and is all powerful and is willing and able to come to your rescue simply on that basis, but you may have to wait on the Lord and you may have to relinquish your control and your will to Him in order for Him to work His great pleasure in your life.

You might think about taking some time off. You might try something else for awhile. Maybe you should relocate to improve your situation. Nevertheless, God willing, re-enter the ministry again when you think you are ready and are comfortable with it. Take the time to heal if you think that you need to. Be true to yourself. The only cure for "burn out" is a long vacation, a lot of rest, or a venue change.

God has no hands
But our hands

Apathy

Sometimes a minister has apathy:
I just don't give a rip anymore. No one else cares so why should I care? Why should I beat my brains out for this crowd over and over again? I have to give up my weekends and much quality family time to feed these ungrateful sheep! And what do I get from it all? I get more bills on my desk and more problems than I want. I have had it!

You have to admit- apathy runs a close second to discouragement for ministers.

Sometimes a congregation has apathy:
Why should I go to church on Wednesday night or Sunday night? I would rather stay at home and watch television. Who is going to miss me? Why should I pay my tithes? I have other uses of my own for that money. Why should I encourage my pastor? Why should I get involved in church activities? And on and on it goes...

If you are dealing with any of this, don't feel like an isolated case- there are many, many also dealing with the same issues. As a matter of fact, apathy is one of the signs of the end times. Here is what the Apostle Paul had to say:
Let no man deceive you by any means- for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first...
(2 Thessalonians 2:3).

Apathy can lead to a problem that the Lord describes in His word-
if the shepherd and sheep fall away from God then they can get trapped by their own sins and are in danger of being devoured by the wolf (Satan). This is NOT God's will.

But we are not godly. We are constant sinners, so your anger is heavy on us. How can people like us be saved? We are all infected and impure with sin. When we proudly display our righteous deeds, we find they are but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall. And our sins, like the wind, sweep us away. Yet no one calls on your name or pleads with you for mercy. Therefore, you have turned away from us and turned us over to our sins...
(Isaiah 64:5-7).

Jesus told a story about a judge who had apathy:
One day Jesus told His disciples a story to illustrate their need for constant prayer and to show them that they must never give up-
"There was a judge in a certain city," He said, "who was a godless man with great contempt for everyone. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, appealing for justice against someone who had harmed her. The judge ignored her for a while, but eventually she wore him out. ‘I fear neither God nor man,‘ he said to himself, ‘but this woman is driving me crazy. I'm going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!‘ "
Then the Lord said, "Learn a lesson from this evil judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end, so don't you think God will surely give justice to His chosen people who plead with him day and night? Will He keep putting them off? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily! But when I, the Son of Man, return, how many will I find who have faith?"
(Luke 18:1-8).

So, what is the cure for indifference and apathy? Well, I could tell you to keep your eye on the prize- and that is eternal life. I could tell you that love is the only motive for service. I could tell you to rally your church congregation around a central goal- such as an activity to win souls in your neighborhood where all the saints participate. This gives individuals and the church as a whole a purpose in which to come together in unity to accomplish His Great Commission. One idea here is that this gets your eyes off of yourself and your own problems and gets your eyes on helping others. But I think the real cure for apathy can come from within a person. You and I have to stir up the coals in our hearts and catch on fire for Jesus. The Lord can also fire us up. The Lord can make us a fire brand and when we are on fire that fire will spread to our congregational members. The Lord can give us a vision for "where there is no vision the people perish"
(Proverbs 29:18).

Have you ever stirred up a one gallon can of paint that had been sitting for a long time? It was stagnant and motionless- it was doing no one any good. This can of paint can be much like you and me when we are stagnant due to apathy. It's much like the fig tree that our Lord cursed. When the owner wants to use that can of paint to keep from throwing it away, he or she has to stir it up first. The good Lord might have to do the same thing with you and me. Here is what the Apostle Peter and the Apostle Paul had to say:
This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance...
(2 Peter 3:1).
Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the laying on of my hands...
(2 Timothy 1:6).

The Lord is ever anxious to save, so let's put away our apathy, and get busy for Him:
For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost
(Luke 19:10).

Work hard and cheerfully at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and the Master you are serving is Christ
(Colossians 3:23-24).

There will be special favor for those who are ready and waiting for His return. I tell you, He Himself will seat them, put on an apron, and serve them as they sit and eat! He may come in the middle of the night or just before dawn. But whenever He comes, there will be special favor for His servants who are ready!
(Luke 12:37-38).

Life is like an echo
What you send out
You receive back

A Dying Church

So, who is to blame for something like this? Well, maybe everybody, maybe nobody. Some church members lose their jobs- maybe some move away. Maybe a pastor came in that nobody liked- instead of using praise and appreciation, he was hostile, critical, and shaming: {The book titled "How to Win Friends and Influence People" was mandantory reading when I was in bible college.} Maybe the pastor was a scatterer rather than a gatherer. Maybe some in the congregation did not like his preaching style. Maybe some in the congregation engaged in slander, backbiting, or being mean to others in the church. Maybe secret witchcraft coven members infiltrated your church and brought it down. Maybe there was sin in the camp and God's anointing left. Maybe there was a church split. Maybe church attendance died off for some reason. Maybe some of the old faithful saints died off, etc. etc.

There are several reasons that a church can die. The end result can be that there just is not enough tithes money coming in to keep the church in business for very long. The simple rule of finances is that there has to be more coming in than going out. So many pastors get themselves entangled with financial debt in regards to their church or their ministry when they should not. Remember the simple words of scripture and stay out of debt:
Owe no man anything...
(Romans 13:8).

What happens when a church goes under? The church has to close it's doors and sit there vacant or church headquarters has to find another use for the building. A lot of this is happening across our land. If you happen to be the pastor of that church when this is happening, it can be emotionally gut wrenching. You may have a tendency to blame yourself but this may not be the case. In the over all scheme of things there are some churches steadily building up, some maintaining, and some declining. Sometimes you have to roll with the punches if you are pastoring a church that is declining.

So, what is the cure for a dying church? One pastor jokingly said: resign! Be that as it may, I think there are a few things we can look at in this regard. You can recruit or proselytise church members from other churches but this can cause problems in the pastoral community. I knew a minister one time who concentrated most of his effort in recruiting men into his church. Why men? He told me that men work and have money and will support a church that they attend. It made sense to me.

I think the best way to save a dying church is to have a revival. Having a revival may fire up existing members and challenge them to win souls in their area and bring the new converts to the church for teaching and discipleship. If you want money go fishing for the souls of men. Is that scriptural? Why do you say that? Well, one time Jesus needed money for His ministry and did not have any. In solving this problem He set an example for us to follow when each of us needs money for our ministry:

"...go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for Me and thee"
(Matthew 17:27).

And He saith unto them, "follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men"
(Matthew 4:19).

When God ordains
He sustains

Health Problems

I knew a pastor who had a motorcycle. He was a member of a Christian motorcycle club. One time him and his wife were on his bike when he took a sharp corner too fast. He hit the side of an on coming pickup truck and dumped his bike. He was busted up pretty bad and had to have surgery. One leg remained longer than the other so he had to wear a built up shoe. He had to preach while sitting in a chair but he persevered and continued to serve the Lord in spite of his health problems. He kept his church alive with God's help.

Another pastor came to preach in a small church. The congregation promised to pay for his health insurance but over a period of time they could no longer afford to do this. The pastor needed hip replacement surgery but could not afford it. He was in pain but had to do without the surgery. Later, this church had to close it's doors and went out of business.

These are just a couple of examples of pastors who needed encouragement due to their health problems. If you are in a good position financially and ever see such a pastor in need- you could be a blessing and an encouragement to him if you helped him. And such a pastor also needs your prayers continually on his behalf.

So, what is cure for health problems in the ministry? This can be a big field to cover but one needs to individually seek the Lord for His help in this matter. There are common sense approaches, there are humanistic approaches, and there are faith approaches. The Lord, upon your faith, can open a door where there is no door to help you. Since I am a pentecostal I believe in divine healing. Why do you do that? I have been divinely healed before, but the scriptures address this issue:
"Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord- and the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up..."
(James 5:14).

God's infinite provision
is always GREATER
than our finite problem

Two Major Problems In All of the Churches

The two major problems in all of the churches are:
women and money (not necessarily in that order).

I knew a pastor one time who had a single male youth leader in his church. A woman started going to his church that no one seemed to know much about. One day this woman approached the youth leader and invited him alone to come to her house that night for spiritual help. The pastor went along with his youth leader but hid in the shadows out of sight when the youth leader knocked on her door. She answered her door wearing a "see through" gown that revealed all of her charms. Her intentions were obvious, so the pastor stepped out of the shadows and told her not to come to his church any more.

I know of one church that was $300,000 in debt. Some of the pastor's key "tithes paying members" had moved off and so his church's income level dropped significantly. That church had a large missionary budget and so the pastor had to sacrifice part of his salary. He took up driving a school bus for the local public school district to make extra money to support his family. The church held some fund raisers and was able to pay off half of that debt. Then the church took out a low interest loan from district headquarters and paid off the rest. Now, they are in a better situation money wise but the pastor is getting burn out from this stress and from having to work extra in order to provide for his own family. Sometimes being a pastor is not so glamorous.

I know of another church where the youth minister's wife fell in love with the church's associate pastor. They were all removed from office and replaced with committed individuals.

I know of another holiness church where the head of their Christian school (a woman) started having an affair with the church secretary (a woman). The pastor had them each sign a resignation form when they accepted employment at his church. After this scandal was known, the pastor signed their resignation forms, and brought the matter to the church to let everyone know what had happened.

So, if you are having church problems then it is a 95% probability that one or both of those issues are the cause. How do you solve these kinds of problems? Ask God what to do. You can also get the advice of older ministers and your boss in the ministry in order to know how to handle these kinds of situations. Always use wisdom and tact in handling delicate situations.

So do not get tired of doing what is good. Do not get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time
(Galatians 6:9). (NLT)

Do You Have An Identity Crisis in the Ministry?

Do you have the same identity as your ministry?

The humanists tell us that what a man does is who he is. But the Bible indicates to us that this is not so. Each of us is NOT what he does. Each of us is a unique individual created by God. So, don't try to be someone else and don't try to mold yourself into someone else's shoes. You are who you are. You have to accept that.

Tie your identity in with Christ, not your ministry. You are His son or daughter by adoption- that is your identity. You are a King's Kid- you are royalty.

The humanists insist that you have no worth if you can't produce. But the Bible indicates to us that this is NOT so. Each of us has worth to God even if we cannot produce anything. Are you a human doing? That's right I did not make a mistake when I said that. Are you a human doing? Your only worth comes from what you can accomplish? For instance, you only have worth if the congregational numbers are high, or if the large church building got completed, or if your missions budget was high, or you were able to start more cell groups than anyone else, or whatever...

I knew a couple of ministers who got fired by their church boards. How emotionally stable does a minister have to be? And how do you feel when your plans or programs fall through- when everything goes contrary to what you planned, hoped for, and wanted? If you are a human doing, if your worth is tied in with what you do rather than who you are- then you might get discouraged. You might want to quit. You might want to give up the ministry. Right?

Who cares if you have this kind of problem? The Lord cares, some in your family or congregation may care, and on some level- you may care. And if not? Then toxic faith can result. A book was written with that title. I recommend that you purchase a copy of this book at your earliest convenience and add it to your pastor's library.

So how do you solve this kind of problem? It takes painful surgery. Maybe the Lord has to send some adversity your way to separate the real you from who you think you are- to separate who you are from what you do. Maybe it will take some kind of a personal trial to do this. Am I speaking from personal experience? Yes, I fell into this common trap and the Lord had to do a little surgery on me to separate the two. I got it all put back together later on and was appreciative to the Lord for the lesson.

If this does apply to me- how am I supposed to feel? Trust the Lord, and don't be too hard on yourself. Remember to keep your eyes on the Lord and get them off of your circumstances. If you look at your circumstances you might start to sink like Peter did when he was walking on the water. He got his eyes off of Jesus and started to sink
(Matthew 14:30).

I knew of a pastor one time. I went to his church a few times. I'll call him Pastor A. This pastor came from a family who had a heritage of turning out numerous pastors- the father was a pastor and all of his sons were pastors. I believe that Pastor A. was the youngest son in that family. It's tough walking in shoes like that. So, with his family's connections, Pastor A. got a very large church. That church was right next to the freeway and was a beacon light for everyone to see. But then things started to go wrong. Some thought that Pastor A. didn't know who he really was. Why did they think that? Because of how he acted. And how did he act? He started a financial bank with his church. His motto was: "if you can't trust God with your money, then who can you trust?" The government came after him for violating certain laws in this area. Then Pastor A. had an affair with with secretary. A con man came along offering a magical black box for sale for $50,000 which Pastor A. purchased with church money. Many pastors have a cocaine drug problem to help them cope with their ministry stress but Pastor A. did not have a drug problem.

So, how did all of this turn out? The government made him sell his church building to pay off his "bank investors"- many of who were local Christians who lost thousands of dollars in this enterprise. The surviving body of believers had to rent a building in which to hold church. Pastor A. had trouble with his wife, and came down with bone cancer. God forgave him and healed him of his bone cancer but his large church building was sold to the local city for a performing arts center. Many times when I drove by that location I thought "what a tragedy."

So, does it really matter if you know who you are or not? If Pastor A. were here I am sure he could answer that question for you.

You better not compromise yourself
It's all you've got

Take Time to Re-examine your Commitment To the Ministry

I met a minister one time who told me the story of what he had to do during the Great Depression days. God had called him to pastor a certain church but that meant that he had to make a huge sacrifice because he had to relocate. He owned a magnificent prize winning bull and had to sell it in order to answer the call of God. He was a young man when this happened but he had tears in his eyes as he was telling me this story many years later. It hurt him so bad to sell that bull but it had to be done as a sacrifice to the Lord. He was committed to the Lord and to his ministry.

When things get tough in the ministry then re-examine your commitment. Were you God called or self called to the ministry? I knew another man one time who was convinced that God called him to be a missionary in east Africa. He hitch hiked across America from the west coast to the east coast, then crossed the ocean to Portugal where he hitch hiked to France. He got sick in France and was running out of money. Finally, in desperation, he put out an immediate fleece before God only to find out that he was not called by God to foreign missions. Then he hitch hiked back home a wiser man. His mistake was that he confused a desire that he had with the call of God. My point is that if you are God called to your ministry then you should stick it out through tough times and endure your suffering. You know that God is going to help you some how and in some way. But it may not be the way that you expect.

It matters little to others what you do to earn a living as long as it is honest work. If you can make it in the ministry, fine. If not, then try something else. If your calling won't let you- then try another avenue within the religious ranks. There have been pastors who left the pulpit ministry to take a desk job at district headquarters or who went on the foreign field as a missionary. Some pastors have started their own ministries or went into a specialized field like gospel music, etc. Some have had to work a secular job during the week and yet pastored on Sunday. There is nothing wrong with that. Many faithful leaders have had to move, sell cherished belongings, left loved ones, and sacrificed to do God's will. His provision is always behind His call. And if you will do His will He promises you rewards in this life and also in the next life.

It's one thing to compromise work priorities (in order to eat) in the ministry- just don't compromise your integrity. As the old saying goes, "You better not compromise yourself, it's all you got."

God promises a safe landing
Not a calm passage

Painful Childhood Flashback Memories:

Sometimes when a minister is around 40 years old, he or she might have a "mid-life crisis." It's also called "(male) menopause" or a person's "second childhood." If a person suffered horrible abuse in childhood, he or she may have repressed those memories. But the mind eventually gets tired of repressing those memories and they spring up. When they spring up they also release what many refer to as "emotional pus." There can be emotional pain, feelings of helplessness and betrayal, and destroyed trust issues.

What happens if you are in the ministry when this happens? With your mind flooded with pain and your trust issues in the toilet, what do you think is going to happen? Your personal relationships are going to suffer. Your work relationships are going to suffer. It may get so bad that you will have a hard time just to function- much less pastor a church. There has to come a time when you just have to let it go. You have to be true to yourself first and foremost. It's better if you take a one or two year sabbatical leave from your church or resign from your church rather than getting fired. You have to take time for yourself to heal. You cannot help others heal if you are not healed yourself. And this healing is a process and not an overnight accomplishment. This is one of the major causes of burn-out. Another one is getting over an addiction.

Ministers who do not know how to handle this situation wisely can wind up ship wrecked on the rocks with their career in ruins. Seek counseling- there are many Christian ministries dedicated to this kind of healing. Go to the group meetings, work the work pages in the work books, and apply the sound counseling that you receive. After you receive your healing, return to the ministry if that is your choice, and you will be more knowledgeable and sympathetic to those who need counseling. And you will be in a position to be His hand extended to help many more who will come to you for help. Your own family members may thank you for making the responsible choice in doing the right thing.

There is..."a time to heal"
(Ecclesiastes 3:3).

A house is made out of brick and stone
but a home is made out of love alone

Family Problems:

I knew a pastor one time who had a teen age son. This boy dated a girl in the church who was close to his own age. He got her pregnant. The pastor was a good preacher and his church was growing, but when this scandal hit his church, this pastor had a heart attack. It didn't kill him but he resigned from his church and moved to another state. Then he continued his ministry there.

It is tough pastoring a church congregation and pastoring a family at home at the same time. Kids want their own ways and they will test your boundaries. They will experiment with your God to see if what you say about Him is true. They will observe your life to see if it matches up to the life of Christ. For your sake and their sake, there better not be any duplicity.

My wife was an excellent pastor's wife. She had the right combination of people skills, knowledge, love, dedication, and patience for her calling to this important position. Folks came to her for advice and counseling. She backed me and stood beside me all of the way. But there can be a pastor's wife who does not do well in this position. She may not like being continually "under a microscope" and continually watched by those in the church. A lot of pressure can build up inside of such a wife. If that happens, a problem can develop that will have to be dealt with very delicately and with a lot of prayer.

There are too many total family problems to be listed here. God did not create your children as robots- each of them is special and has free will. However, each of them has a sin nature also. You can introduce them to your loving Savior but each of them have to choose Him for themselves. Each of them have other choices to make in life as well.

Is there some formula to take to make this happen? Trust God to help you work out whatever problem you are faced with. Take one problem at a time. My best advice to you is to love God, love yourself, love your wife, love your children, and love those who you minister to. As the old prospector once said, "It just don't get no better than that!"

God is in control

Here are some scriptures that may encourage you:

"That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.
For our present troubles are quite small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever!
So we do not look at the troubles we can see right now; rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever"
(II Corinthians 4:16-18). (NLT)

"The joy of the Lord is your strength" (Neheniah 8:10).

"Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out one after another, calling each by its name. And he counts them to see that none are lost or have strayed away.
O Israel, how can you say the Lord does not see your troubles? How can you say God refuses to hear your case?
Have you never heard or understood? Don't you know that the Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth? He never grows faint or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
He gives power to those who are tired and worn out; he offers strength to the weak.
Even youths will become exhausted, and young men will give up.
But those who wait on the Lord will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint"
(Isaiah 40:26-31). (NLT)

"And I say to the rest of you, dear brothers and sisters, never get tired of doing good"
(II Thessalonians 3:13).

"So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and steady, always enthusiastic about the Lord's work, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless"
(I Corinthians 15:58).

You will never be able to preach against sin
if you are entertained by it

CONCLUSION

First of all I want to say that I praise you for being in Christ's ministry. Being in the ministry is not an easy task. There can be a lot of demands made on you and on your family. You and your family, it always seems, are always under a magnifying glass besides being the light of the world. You are always a target of Satan and his imps as well as his undercover agents. You have to give so much that at times you just get tired of giving. And you have to love people. And you have to invest time in other people. And then there are the major problems like money and women. The pressure can, at times, be very great. And you always have to have a good attitude, and you have to have so much unconditional love-
I understand all of that.

For a ten year period of my life I had ordination with my own ministry. I had the legal power to marry and bury. Some of my friends had ordination for decades, some did not. One friend had it, then resigned it, then picked it up again later. I resigned my ordination after I did not need it anymore because I went to work in the secular field. Up to this present time, I still run my ministry as a volunteer, however. I just do not have Reverend (Rev.) as a title in front of my name. A friend of mine once told me that Rev. meant "awesome" in Latin. I do not know if I was awesome or not but I thought it was amusing, nevertheless. I asked my friend what I should call him after he resigned his ordination since he was not a Rev. anymore. He said, "just call me Hey You!"

One of my friends never resigned from the ministry but, instead, changed ministries. He once told me, after he had retired from the active ministry, he had invitations from church leaders come to him from time to time asking him to pastor a church here or there. But he said no. He told me that he just did not have the love for the sheep anymore. So, instead of being a pastor, a sheep burper, he was now going to be an evangelist, a sheep skinner! And he said he liked that a lot better...

Well, each to his own, I say...

It is good to "take a sabatical" leave from the ministry from time to time as you need it, especially when you are going through mid-life crisis. Things can get pretty touchy emotionally during this time so take a break if you need to and come back to the ministry again after things smooth out for you later on. I knew a Roman Catholic priest one time who did that and it worked out real good for him to do things that way.

I just want you to know that you are well loved and appreciated and that the good Lord is going to reward you richly for all of what you have gone through and for all of what you have sacrificed for His name and in His calling.

I hope that something that I have had to say will have helped you, given you an answer, encouraged you, or kept you behind the pulpit for a little longer.

Save your soul
nothing else matters

www.7-star-admiral.com


links

Testimonies- Here are various testimonies that will help you with your faith.

A Man Trying To Get Away From God
     Here is a true story about a wounded Christian who threw it all away and
     how he came back to God. This story may give you hope if you need it because God
     never stops loving and reaching out to those who are wounded.


Genesis chapter 8
verses 13 - 22

Genesis chapter 8
encouragement for you

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As of April 5, 2005