We are getting to that point in the summer where I start to worry for my friends in ministry. It's late in the summer and we are not okay.
If you have been in ministry for about six or seven seconds, you know how depressing that dashboard can be on Monday morning. So many families away enjoying vacation. You're home, hard at work, trying to maintain through the summer. It can be one of the most discouraging seasons of the entire year for someone in full-time ministry.
This is about the time we could all use some encouragement to finish the summer strong and head into the Fall.
1) STOP LOOKING AT YOUR NUMBERS!
Okay, you aren't going to do this exactly. Who am I kidding? But let's make a deal. When you look at those numbers, instead of thinking about how more should have been there, think this...
"What an honor. God has given me the opportunity to be faithful with ____ of His children. God, thank you for those You have blessed and allowed me to lead."
2) Slow Down And Pray More!
Honestly, summer provides an opportunity for all of us to slow down a little bit. I'm not talking about slamming on the brakes and then giving yourself whiplash trying to start back up in the Fall. Keep going, but slow down enough to pull over to the side of the road and enjoy the view.
You've got more time in the summer with more people gone and a little less people strain on your time. Use that time to pray more leading toward September. Pray more and rest. Beg God to be sufficient enough for your weakness. Like me you probably carry weight to, "make it happen," that you aren't created to carry. God will still be God in July, August and September.
3) Look For Little Wins!
One of the most encouraging things for me is remembering when the summer seems to drag on, God is still faithful. There is always someone, a story, a family, somewhere that God is using. Find their story and share it with others. Motivate your staff that God is still working even in July.
If you struggle to find those kinds of stories reach out to small group leaders, team leaders, staff and ask them to share what they know. The stories are there, but we need to find them. These stories can be incredibly encouraging and a great reminder that God is still at work in His people.
4) Give In To A Hobby!
There is so much to say here. The short and sweet is simply, “Find something you enjoy doing and go do that thing.”
A hobby should be fun and energizing for you. To some degree it doesn’t really matter what the hobby is, but you need to give in to it a little bit and re-energize yourself.
Ride a bike
Whatever your hobby…just do it!
5) Encourage Another Pastor!
Whether it’s the pastor at the other church down the street or you have a friend in ministry in another state, take a few minutes and encourage them. Reach out in an email or give them a phone call. Ask them how you can pray for them and sincerely ask about how things are going in their ministry. For me it seems that when I give some of my energy to encourage someone else, I somehow end up being encouraged. I think God is good to us that way.
This is not a manipulation thing. We aren’t being fake about our encouragement to another. I’m saying you should be sincere in encouraging someone else in ministry. I believe God honors that and His power and strength energize us for the work we are facing. But don’t play manipulation games with God as if you can trick Him into blessing you or something. That’s not a good idea. It’s also a terrible idea. Basically, don’t do that.
Be genuinely encouraging to another pastor who may be struggling this summer also.
To be honest, I don't think any of this is rocket science. My guess is you all know this. Maybe as you read through this you’re nodding your head in agreement, or silently in your mind saying, “Stan, you’re such a simpleton. I already know all this.”
Well, there’s a huge difference between knowing and doing. So I’m trying to focus on the latter. Go do these things. Knowing them intellectually literally changes nothing. But if you want to see a change in you and your ministry in the long days of summer, then you should go out and actually do them.
Be encouraged this summer!
God is good.
God is faithful.
He is working.