How pastors can stay upbeat when they feel beat up.

There is no doubt that the job of “pastoring” can be brutal work. The harshest winter winds coupled with subzero temperatures are no match for the grief and burdens that come with the being the point man in a local church. Standing tall for truth sometimes just makes you a bigger target that can take more arrows and darts. You could probably never get any two preachers in this country to agree on any topic, but on this one you might get close to a 100% agreement – pastoring can often leave you feeling like you have been beat up.

So how do we move ahead despite the pain? Should we throw in the towel and quit? Should we whine like a child who doesn’t get their way?

Nope! We need to conquer this and move ahead. Out task is too important and the time is too short for quitters and whiners. Here is my remedy.

  • First, make sure you are doing the standard “self-encouragement stuff” that you have probably read twenty books about. Read your Bible. Focus in the Psalms. Listen to good music. Talk with an older and wiser counselor, etc, etc, so on and so forth….
  • Next remember the old line, “It could be worse”. Yes, you could be running a septic tank pumping service in hot, humid, mosquito infested East Texas. Or maybe you could be screwing the caps on toothpaste tubes in a giant, unventilated factory in Malaysia. Or you could be like a guy I am ministering to here in our community- His wife just left him. His married, drug addicted kids just moved in to spare bedroom and do nothing to help. He has extreme health issues and PTSD. He is vomiting with the flu and his dog just had a bad “diarrhea episode” in his bedroom. Yes, anyway you look at it, it could be worse.

Keeping these two topics in mind, let me share with you what I do when I have been “beaten up”….

I energize myself.

Nope, not with a taser, a cappacino, or chocolate bar. I have discovered that there are certain things that I can do that actually “pick me up” and get my mind and spirit back on track. Yes, all of us can get beat up in the ministry, but we also can identify and DO the thing that gets us UPBEAT. Here is what it is for me…..

I get someone from A to B. I help them take a mini-step in their spiritual growth.

That’s it. I step out on my world and into the life of one of my converts or disciples and I help move them forward ONE step. If I can pull that off, I am on my way to leaving the beat up feeling behind. In fact, you can beat on me all day, but just let me help a person take a step forward in their discipleship or obedience and I’m on the top of the world. As one of my preacher friends says, “that’s my paycheck”.

Here is how I do it.

I ask the Lord to help me zero in on an A to B growth opportunity. I realize, that what I really need to do is to help or encourage just one person to step forward in their growth. There is an old saying that goes something like this, “do for one, which you wish you could do for all”. I saw a great example of this the other day on the news. President Trump let some kid come and mow the lawn at the White House. I am sure the kid was very excited for the opportunity. Yet many folks miss a great hidden lesson in this act. It was the chance for a very “beat up” public figure to do something for someone else. The kid will never forget the experience, but the president got the greatest benefit. He moved from beat up to upbeat by helping a kid move forward in his life.

Do you need to do to move out of the death zone of self pity? If so, plan a little A to B action today. Here’s how….

Make it an objective, definable, doable, simple, achievable, step. Just saying you are “discipling” a person is too broad. Encouraging a church member is to broad too. Preaching a sermon- to broad. Make it simpler and “tighter”. Make it something that can be done or observed in ten minutes, written on a napkin, tweeted or “selfied”. Here are a few examples of some simple things I have got people to do. Yes, I call these my “paycheck”:

Here is my list I helped to make happen. Someone…..

  • Prayed out loud for the first time
  • Came to a Bible study and actually asked a question
  • Volunteered for a work day and actually showed up
  • Asked if they could come and “talk”
  • Helped me take a food box to a needy family.
  • Prayed and asked Jesus to help them give up alcohol for the next 24 hours
  • Had daily devotions for three days in a row.
  • Daily read the entire book of Proverbs last month
  • Brought their lost spouse to church
  • Led a home Bible study fro the first time.

Each of these event, were great steps for the individual, but in the background, they were steps to get me from beat up mode to upbeat mode.

If you are feeling like you are beat up, I want to encourage you to be strong in your devotions, listen to good music, or have coffee with a trusted friend. But on top of that, refocus on a single person and take them form A to B.–Mike


BTW, I solicited ideas from my many ReachKeeper friends of what they do to move from beat up to upbeat. Here are a few of their suggestions:

Original Post: “What part of the ministry energizes you the most?

I guess if I had to narrow it down to one category a big one might be when you see the members taking up responsibilities in an event like pitch in or youth activity where members step forward and help not only serve but even organized you think that your labor is not in vain and it is very rewarding. RS-Montana

Since getting the opportunity to actually lead someone to Christ is not a common occurrence, I’m glad God has gifted me with being energized just for the opportunity to be a witness 24/7. I love it! Being there when someone yields to Christ is just a bonus. EM-Wisconsin

For me to hear someone say, “I never knew that!” or “I didn’t know that was in my Bible!” I have a monthly Bible study for not only our older members but also our new guests that have visited during the preceding two or three weeks. It is such a blessing to hear one of our longtime members say that. I know then all my study, and God’s guidance, over the past fifty years has been well worth it. CW-Florida

The thing that moves me to all faithfulness is finding new depth of Truth in the Word. WS- Kansas

Fewer people sleeping, more people taking notes. Someone saying they are changing because of what the scriptures said instead of “I enjoyed the sermon”. Summer being over. AC

Fewer people sleeping, more people taking notes. Someone saying they are changing because of what the scriptures said instead of “I enjoyed the sermon”. Summer being over. BB

Nothing. I am tired. It is futile. All hope is gone. (This was not a joke. I have personally been in contact with this pastor) DJ-rural church

I think for me as a Pastor, what would energized me most is receiving a vision/ dream from heaven and the Lord gives me power and the anointing to fulfill His dreams and calling. Without the calling and vision, what else is there that could energize you outside the role of Pastor or any other ministry. It’s the calling that’s keep me going for as you know, it’s not easy being a Pastor. Phil- United Kingdom

Bro. Mike, I have been saved since 1960, and possibly never missed a day of personal Bible reading. What constantly energizes me every day are (1) getting my soul “nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine”, 1 Timothy 4:6, (2) being increasingly with a renewed sense and attitude of worship by first reading from Psalms every day, and (3) cheerfully talking every day to several people about Jesus as I give a tract while running errands and taking care of other “carnal business” associated with living in this “real” world. I have personally given 624 tracts this year. I first get my heart excited about God Himself, then through thanksgivings for all God’s blessings of various pleasures of life, then the anticipation of seeing someone being saved . Amen! MS- Colorado

I pray you are well. What energizes me is when I teach the Word of GOD. I enjoy explaining GODS thoughts to others and helping them to feel the love from our Father. GW- Long Island, NY

Besides the obvious (as you pointed out), seeing my people, young and old, grow in their faith a practice, and seeing their enthusiasm in the work of the Lord here at church! DP-Colorado

Of course there is nothing like the moment that a sinner trusts in the Lord and is born again. Really nothing can compare with that. However, as a pastor my favorite time was that which you alluded to in your article. Seeing a new believer come to understand biblical truth at their dining room table. Those moments as a pastor are much more than a transfer of biblical knowledge, but they are also the building of a personal relationship with that believer. After meeting with that person over several weekly meetings we have both given keep doctrinal truth but also built a lasting relationship. As a pastor those discipled believers become some of my best church members. In fact in my current ministry as the director of the WFBC I really miss that part of my pastoral ministry most of all. WV-Wisconsin

Maybe the biggest for me is when you see people in the church who begin to show signs of growth, those times when “They get it”, they make good decisions, share how God is working in their lives without being asked, etc — That being said it is important t emphasize the fact that doesn’t happen all of the time and one must learn to glory in the “little things”. BL- Croatia

I love it when people take ownership of their church without neglecting their family. They’re all in. SL-Illinois

Discipling new believers and mentoring any believers! The truth sets us free, but so many remain in bondage to sinful addictions and pre-salvation behaviors–the local church should be the place where each believer can build relationships with people who know the truth and will speak it in love. CV-Wisconsin

NOTE: As usual, may I remind you, ReachKeep is here to help you. We desire to help you and your church move from A to B. If you are wanting to get your church off of dead center and need a boost, I have a recommendation for you-Check out and subscribe to the ReachKeep YouTube Channel. We have dozens of great resources from How to Create an Engaging Sermon Series to Amazing Sundays to something called Digital Visitation.

Mike Holmes

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