Do you ever get a case of "ministry blah"? Never heard of this nasty sickness? I define the "blah" as "a consistent discouragement with your place of service—often accompanied by repetitive complaining." It can be further defined as "feeling like your ministry is useless, that you're not supported, and that no one else cares."
Unfortunately, my immune system isn't always strong enough to fight against this. Sometimes I think I've shaken it, and the next week it hits me again. I think I've won the battle, and soon I've lost all my energy for ministry.
I know that I'm not alone. A friend recently requested, "Please pray for me and my ministry. Satan is attacking me, and I feel like I've lost my purpose." I see people with the symptoms weekly. I hear the complaining. Obviously, the Devil loves to see us struggling through this "blah." He celebrates when we give up on our ministry. He wins when we quit.
It's likely I'll come down with this nagging illness again soon, and no doubt you will battle it, too. I have some ideas that we can use to combat the "blah" when we're infected.
Remember Your Original Passion
What's your story? Was there a time in your ministry when God worked something out and put you in the right place at the right time with the right people? Do you remember proclaiming "this is where I'm called to be" or "this is where God wants me to serve"?
A few years ago, God led me to start a ministry to at-risk elementary students. I received this passion from the Holy Spirit. God brought others with the same passion to join me. He opened doors. I was the first to give God the credit during those initial first few months.
1 Peter 4:19 says, "So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good." When the "blah" brings suffering in the form of discouragement, remember your original passion and that will help you dig in a little deeper. Jog your memory of the early days and the calling you felt. Remember your personal story with God and how he brought you to where you are now.
Talk About It
I recently had a case of the "blah" with the outreach to students. The program was on a break for the summer, and I was enjoying it—maybe a little too much. I let my guard down, and it was easy to want my selfish life back. I liked having my Tuesday nights open. And I liked the weeks where I didn't have to recruit, train, and encourage leaders. I didn't have any reason to keep up the administrative tasks, to strategically plan, or develop relationships with the students and families. I could quit!
It wasn't long before I was telling my friends what I was feeling. Thank God that those same friends reminded me that my life wasn't all about me. They reminded me that this ministry was my gift to God. It was a way I could worship and glorify him. God has a funny way of working, and our friends are sometimes the vitamins we need to get spiritually healthy again.
Fast Until There Is Healing
During the summer, I was burnt out. A new position at work meant increased responsibility and longer hours. The stresses of my life were mounting. Then a long-awaited vacation came. For a week I laid on a sunny beach in Florida, praying, relaxing, and determined not to let life overwhelm me.
That determination lasted a couple weeks.
I've found that when I have the "ministry blah," it's often because I'm not staying well-connected with God. Spiritual disciplines, like prayer and Bible reading, fall by the wayside, and slowly, often without recognizing the symptoms for what they are, I'm bombarded with feelings of discouragement, incompetence, and carelessness.