Almost every worship leader I know has traversed through at least one dark season of discouragement in their ministry. Discouragement can be caused by a whole host of issues: criticism from church members, lack of participation in worship, a church that seems stuck or dying, relational conflicts with key leaders, family problems, and even betrayal by ministry allies. Worship leading can be a discouraging endeavor.
So how do we press on when times get hard? How do we keep going when we want to give up? Here are five ways you can battle discouragement in your life and ministry.
Remember You Were Called
When things get tough we start to wonder if we are the right man or woman for the job. Maybe the church made a mistake. Maybe I made a mistake coming here. I’m unqualified. They don’t like me. Why didn’t they hire someone else? So many of these thoughts can run through our head when things get hard, but the truth is, if God wanted someone else to have your job, someone else would have your job. God is the sovereign king of the universe. He raises up kings and nations. He controls the cosmos. He works all things according to the counsel of His own will (Eph 1:11). You are in the role that you are in because God chose YOU to be there. You ARE the right man or woman for the job. Period. God doesn’t make mistakes. You were the one He called to this.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. – Ephesians 2:10
Patiently Pastor Your People
Sometimes we are discouraged because we don’t see the results we want. Things just don’t seem to be moving forward. Our people don’t seem to understand why we worship and why it’s important. They show up late to service. They talk in the lobby. They munch donuts and sip their coffee. They sit bored while you pour your heart out on stage. What is wrong with these people?! The key here is to patiently and consistently pastor your people. People are sheep and sheep are dumb. They need love, training and time. If they don’t understand worship, ask your pastor if you can preach a sermon on worship. Or teach a Sunday school class. Or take a small group through an informative book. If your people aren’t physically expressive in worship, take two minutes in the service to teach them why we raise our hands. Don’t get discouraged at your people. Let your heart be filled with love and compassion. Teach, exhort and train with all patience, and you will see fruit over time.
Ask What You Need To Change
Oftentimes discouragement comes from criticism, and oftentimes there is something to be learned from criticism. Maybe people don’t like your song choices, maybe they say you talk too much between songs, or you seem too somber on stage. Instead of getting defensive, get humble. Ask yourself what truths you might find in their criticism. Maybe they’re right. Ask God how he might want to change you and your approach to ministry through their complaints. There is always room to grow, and criticism can be the catalyst to take you to the next level. Level up!
Perhaps the discouragement is coming from internal sources; things inside of you. Maybe you need to get more rest, take a break from the Internet, change your eating habits, repent of sin, re-engage with Scripture, start dating your spouse, begin exercising, or make a new friend. Discouragement is simply life’s way of telling you something isn’t right. It is a chance to examine your life and see what needs to change. Ask the hard questions and then make the change.
Remind Yourself Who You Do This For
Discouragement can also arise when we start trying to please people rather than God. We already know we can’t please everybody and eventually someone will be disappointed with us. Why do we even try? Instead of worrying about the opinions of man, find out what God is calling you to do and work at it with all your might. His approval of you is all that matters.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters. – Colossians 3:23
Don’t Give Up
Lastly, when battling a season of discouragement, it’s vital that we don’t give up. Satan wants nothing more than for you to quit. Don’t! This season shall soon pass and God is with you through it all. In the long valley of discouragement God will give you strength and grace to keep going. We must find our strength in Him. He is the never-ending source of living water. Run to Him for rest and refreshment. Get serious about spending time with Him each day. If you need to, take time off, go on a retreat, or sign up for a conference where you can be poured into. God will never call you to something he won’t equip you for. If you are empty, do whatever you need to do to fill up. Get help, but don’t give up.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. –Galatians 6:9
Ministry isn’t easy, but you were called to this. Carry on soldier. Fight the fight, finish the race, keep the faith.
Alex Enfiedjian is a worship leader, songwriter, producer, author and podcaster. He founded Worship Leader Training to pursue his passion of helping worship leaders excel in their craft and calling! Alex is married to his lovely wife Liliya and together they have two little girls. They currently live and serve in beautiful Lake Tahoe, CA. Follow him at worshipleadertraining.com or on Twitter @alexonhe.