I have concluded that most church people are positive, encouraging, and supportive. Nonetheless, it generally takes at least ten encouraging things to offset one discouraging thing (this varies a lot with intensity).
The greatest discouragement most pastors face is from within the Kingdom. Jesus warned his disciples that they would have to bear insult because they belong to him (Matthew 5:11). What Jesus did not warn his disciples about is that Christians would insult fellow Christians, and particularly that Christians would insult or demoralize their leaders. I call these offenders the “ungracious ten per cent.”
Most insults are passive-aggressive—insinuation and inference. Here are some common insults—coupled with my subjective rating scale rating intent to insult.
1. Fewer than half of solo pastors receive any health insurance ... 2. Almost three-fourths of full-time worship/music leaders receive health insurance... 3. Many full-time church staff receive no retirement benefits.... 5. Only six in ten full-time pastors and staff get any type of automobile reimbursement.... CPost
(Read the series so far.)
Here I continue sharing my reflections on how Paul guided Timothy when he was facing discouragement, from the book of 2 Timothy. You can read Part 1 and Part 2 if you haven’t already. I address these to others, but first to myself.
Sometimes a pastor’s discouragement comes because there is disunity in the church, or a lack of commitment to the core truths that we all hold in common. People can become divided over secondary or even relatively minor issues. This may be a signal to the pastor that he should speak to the church family about focusing on the fundamental truths of Scripture and on the person and work of Christ.
When I finished speaking, however, the leader of the search team asked: “How do you think this will work out here, given that Steve [not the actual name of the senior pastor] has the opposite view?” In that moment, it wasn’t clear if his question was directed to the whole search team (as though they had never talked about this before), or if the question was only meant for me. But if you want to know what happened next, I’ll tell you: long, awkward pause.