Thursday, May 30, 2013


This is an article that I wrote for the June, July issue of ONE magazine.

I was talking to a home missionary recently and he mentioned how often he felt inadequate and thought about quitting.  And this guy is doing a good job.  But I could certainly identify.  During my 20 years as a pastor, I thought about quitting almost every week.  On Sunday nights, I would rehearse my mistakes of that day.  When you speak 3 or 4 times in a day and have a couple of hundred conversations, you will probably have said something dumb.  Even if it was a great day, I thought about the family that wasn’t there or the person who got a little upset with me.  And I said to myself, “Surely, there has to be somebody better than me to do this!”
It is not just church planters and pastors that feel inadequate.  From what I have observed and read, a lot of people deal with a lot of negative self-talk.  This leads to either never starting or quitting early.  Look at the great leader Moses became, but he started out thinking he wasn’t good enough. 
Here are some ideas that have helped me:
Remember That You Are Inadequate
I just mean by this that you should not try to do God’s work without a daily walk with Him, depending on His strength.
When I was a pastor, I had two Sunday morning rituals.  One of them was to sing out loud in my office before church the song, “I Need Thee Every Hour.” 
              I need thee every hour, most gracious Lord;
               no tender voice like thine can peace afford.
      I need thee, O I need thee
                every hour I need thee;
                O bless me now, my Savior, I come to thee.
Remember That Your Work Is Important
The other ritual was to ask myself the question about my preaching –
“Do you have to say something or do you have something to say?” 
Are you going through the motions with your ministry or is this something important for people and the Kingdom?

 Hang Around Some Encouraging People
We tell our children to not hang around others who are a bad influence,  but some of your acquaintances may be a bad influence on you.  If they are always negative, critical, and discouraging, maybe you need to pull back from them. (This may include other influences like books and TV shows)  Find someone who encourages you and spend time with them.  I don’t where I’d be if I didn’t have an encouraging wife!

 Hone Your Skills
One of the best ways to feel better about our work is to do better work.

Remember That The Harvest Takes Time
“I believe God wants us to be successful and yet success is not always obvious.  The Chinese bamboo tree does absolutely nothing - or so it seems – for the first four years.  Then suddenly, sometime during the fifth year, it shoots up ninety feet in sixty days.  Would you say that the bamboo tree grew in six weeks, or five years?  I think our lives are akin to the Chinese bamboo tree.  Sometimes we put forth effort, put forth effort, put forth effort…and nothing seems to happen.  But if you do the right things long enough, you’ll receive the rewards of your efforts.”
                                            Chick-fil-a founder  S. Truett Cathy

 Don’t Compare To Others
            When I compare myself to others, I end up either feeling proud or discouraged.

 Think Of The Needs Of Others
          If I am on a raft and someone in the lake is struggling to swim, I don’t say that I can’t do anything because I’m not a lifeguard or don’t swim as well as others.  I try to maneuver the raft closer or hold out something for them to grab.  I do what I can to help.  People all around us need the gospel.  They need the truth and love that we have. 
I close with this quote from H.B. London:

“In the twenty-first century, the issue of apathy may be our number one problem.  Possibilities are clouded when a pastor feels overwhelmed by the massive and compelling spiritual needs he sees around him everywhere.  As a result, sin and secularism are devastatingly oppressive to him.  But consider the presuppositions of ministry again.  Doesn’t a call to ministry mean that God may send a pastor to wretched situations He wants to redeem and to people He wants to save?  Doesn’t ministry mean that God sends us, inadequate though we are, next door to hell to make the setting more like heaven?  He has to have someone there as His agent of reconciliation.”