When Pastors Become Discouraged

My Old Testament reading for today from I Kings 19 recounts how the prophet Elijah became so discouraged that he wanted to die.  Queen Jezebel had declared him a dead man for wiping out her prophets to Baal.  Elijah runs down to Mt. Horeb and hides in a cave, complaining that he is the only one in all Israel who still is faithful to God.  “Poppycock,” says God, “I’ve still got 7,000 people who haven’t bowed to Baal.  Get out of the cave I’ve got stuff for you to do.”

Consider Moses, God “volunteered” him lead to his people out of Egyptian slavery.  In Numbers 11, Moses gets fed up. “God, you gave birth to these people, but you’ve made me their nursemaid to carry them like babies to their new home.  If this is the way you’re going to treat me, just kill me.”  Yahweh directed him to bring seventy of the leaders and God gave them some of Moses spirit to help oversee the people.  Not that things were all hunky dory after that.  The next thing we know, his brother and sister, Miriam and Aaron, started undercutting him.

The prophet Isaiah answered God’s call, “Here am I send me. Send me.” God told him that his ministry would involve preaching to people who would not listen to him. (Isaiah 6).  At some point Isaiah became discouraged and confessed his failure as a prophet to Israel.  God answered, “You know what? You need a bigger job.  I’m making you a prophet to the nations, (Is. 49).”

It was the same with Jeremiah, who accused God of deceiving him.  He determined not to speak the word of the Lord any longer.  The Lord told him that he should stop complaining and say something worthwhile and just do the job he was called to do.

I don’t mean by this that congregations should make their pastor’s life miserable and not care for their pastor, but pastors also must realize that success, as the world, and even the church measures success is not the way God measures things.  God measures by faithfulness, both on the part of his people and on the part of their God – called leaders.

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