3 Encouragements for Discouraged Pastors

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By Ryan Rice

Have you ever needed a pick me up? No, not the afternoon cup of coffee that fuels the rest of your day, but actual words of encouragement?

We live in a discouraging world. I often wonder if it gives people joy to discourage others?

Recently, leaders of all stripes faced insurmountable challenges due to COVID-19. Many of these leaders have had their decisions critiqued, analyzed, and picked apart by Monday morning leadership commentators.

I don’t envy the position of government officials during this time. But what about our pastors?

Pastors, who over the past several weeks, turned into streaming evangelists overnight. Your decision not to gather received angry emails, assertions your faith was small, and churchgoers calling you a coward.

Even during this time, you worked harder, trying to keep everyone connected, but some still said it wasn’t enough.

No one else knows how much you’ve cried the past several weeks. Some of you were even shedding tears over whether your local church will survive all this.

At times you rode the discouragement coaster and rolled with the wave of feeling inadequate as a leader. For some, you pressed through your already fragile state of burnout.

Stuck at home, you didn’t want anyone to think you were lazy. So, you have tried to prove yourself, working harder, longer, and you’re flat out tired.

Pastor, I don’t know you, but God does, and He loves you.

The Scripture tells pastors to shepherd willingly, not out of greed, be an example, and the result.

“And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory” (1 Peter 5:4).

I’m not sure if anyone has told you, but pastor, you’ve done a fantastic job leading the church, loving the people, and preaching the Word of God.

You’ve adapted to streaming, online Bible study, and caring for the sheep in creative ways. You may not feel encouraged, but here are three reasons you should be:

1. You kept the gospel the main thing.

Notice it’s not about how perfect your stream was or how creative your online presence became, but the gospel.

Remember what the Apostle Paul wrote under the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit?

“I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).

You may never know how many people were impacted by that simple gospel message over the past several weeks.

2. You led with compassion and integrity.

In the time of a pandemic, the right information is crucial and effective communication is paramount.

Pastor, thank you for sharing with your people clearly and directly.

No one was left wondering the next steps or even where the church stood on caring for each other.

For some pastors, you mobilized the deacon ministry to care for the elderly. For others, phone calls and text are part of your daily schedule.

Even now, moving into regathering, you’ve met with leaders and stakeholders to develop a plan that’ll love your church and neighbors.

3. You have loved your family well.

I know, for some pastors, the idea of being home with your family and not at the church has led to anxiety.

Not that you don’t love being with your family, but the thought of what others might be thinking. “Are they even working? Why are they getting paid to work from home?”

Pastor, thank you for pushing through and quieting the noise and loving your family well.

For some, you’ve reconnected with your spouse and kids. For others, you’ve started taking your mental and physical health seriously, which will allow you to better care for your family.

I don’t know if anyone else has told you, but pastor, you’re doing a great job.

Keep pressing, trusting, and remaining faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ. Cling once more to the Word of God:

“And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory” (1 Peter 5:4).

RYAN RICE, SR. (@ryanricesr) is husband to Seané, father of Ryan, Jr., Brayden, Reagen, and Bailey, and has been in ministry since 2007. He’s currently the lead pastor of Connect Church of Algiers in New Orleans, Louisiana, which they planted in 2014.

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