WORKING THROUGH MINISTRY FRUSTRATION AND DISCOURAGEMENT

“Indeed we count them blessed who endure . . . the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.”                                                                                                                    James 5:11 NKJV

INSTABILITY: “The tendency to change behavior quickly or to react to things in an extremely emotional way.” (Merriam-Webster)  It is the experience of running hot and cold, on or off, committed to no commitment, present to absent. Much like a roller coaster, many find themselves running betwixt and between emotions or spiritual highs and lows, frustrated, burned out, and considering quitting altogether! 

An element of the Greek word hypomenō means ‘to remain; to abide, not recede or flee. It is a reference to enduring hardship and persecution. However, it should be noted that much of the hardship is often self-inflicted and the instability comes from within.

Let’s face it. Sometimes we’re on or off, in or out, present or absent because of issues that are undercurrents (usually our own sins or distractions from others) in our lives that we fail to deal with properly.  Unfortunately, we’re influenced by others’ responses to our work or we seek validation from people who usually don’t understand our calling or our work.  Losing heart, frustration, no immediate or obvious growth or improvement, all of these and other experiences can discourage and distract us.  We become unstable because our focus is lost rendering us ineffective, reacting rather than responding, and changing our behavior to fit the scene or conditions that we face.

At some point, we must realize that excuses cannot justify mediocrity; complaining cannot explain away our non-achievement; blaming others will not exempt us from accountability; and settling will never reach a peak of fulfillment and ultimate joy.

The Apostle Paul’s advice to an unstable church was this: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” — I Corinthians 15:58 NKJV

Assess/Evaluate.  Being stable requires making an honest assessment of one’s own attitudes, work and commitments. You know! Really!  Be honest and confess before God. Instability is perpetrated by not confessing the truth. And the truth is that sin generates instability.  And, instability can be observed in our actions and measured by looking inwardly to assess and evaluate the quality of performance, participation, influence or motive.  We usually know when we’ve done our best or sought God’s guidance to reach deliverance, victory, or growth.  Being unfocused is sin . . . ask Elijah; Neglect is sin . . . ask Eli;  Idleness is sin . . . ask David;  Disrespect fueled by envy and jealousy is sin . . . ask Miriam.  On and on, there are too many examples of God’s people losing focus and not evaluating their own attitudes, motives, etc.  

Refocus.  An unstable reality can be altered by refocusing upon the Lord. (Hebrews 12:2) Jesus is always the standard for stability. Therefore, keep your eyes upon Him. Hit that refresh button often to stay current with God!

Faith.  At all times, we must walk by faith by trusting God’s word to do its work without our being able to see it.  “So is My word that goes out from My mouth:  It will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11 NIV)  Don’t allow what you can see determine your passion or participation.  What we cannot see is usually powerful and purposeful behind the scenes.  Ask God for a discerning spirit and the strength to wait on Him, Wait for the Lordbe strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.“. (Psalm 27:14 NIV)

Don’t take on too many things! People who focus on a very few things tend to be more productive. Prioritize the important things! Delegate the lesser important things. And don’t allow others to get you out of focus (like Peter tried with Jesus in Matthew 16).  Remember that Jesus helped Martha with her sister Mary by saying to her, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” — Luke 10:41-42 NIV

And make your commitments to the Lord and not mere promises to people.  “As unto the Lord” means that our promises cannot be insignificant or neglected when He is the focus of our passion for service among the people of God.  Also, remember that people do matter and keeping our commitments to them is a part of our testimony!

Stop comparing yourself with others!  Other people cannot be your standard for excellence.  That has to come from God who guides us into the work of the kingdom with passion and high performance levels.  And our best comes from within, the desire to please Him to display and execute our labor in the Lord.

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24 NKJV

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