Dealing with discouragement

Last Sunday, I wrote about some of the discouragement I was feeling. Anxiety. Self-doubt. Questioning my abilities. Questioning decisions I’ve made. Paths I’ve chosen. I wish I could say that was just a moment of self-doubt and second-guessing. And I wish I could look back on that 7 days later and laugh.

But I can’t. It seems I’m passing through a little season of discouragement.

And it sucks.

It is completely antithetical to reality. My head knows it but my heart doesn’t seem to care.

As I look out my window right now, the Eastern sky is about to burst with the morning. With the blue sky to later burn through the morning mist– I’m reminded that discouragement comes from Satan.

Discouragement is Satan’s ministry to me. He wants to distract me and destroy me. He wants to get a foothold. He’d love nothing more than for me to give up.

3 Ways I’m Dealing with this Season of Discouragement

  1. Looking back – I reread two posts this morning that really helped me put this whole thing into perspective. The first came from July 2010. (5 Ways to Encourage Your Church Staff.) The second needs more context as it was written nearly 6 years ago. A lot was changing in my life. We moved to Romeo in 2003 with hopes that big things were to come at that little church. It had grown from about 100 people to about 400 people when I was hired. Then four months after I arrived, the senior pastor resigned and we quickly went from nearly 400 to about 175. In the midst of that, my new boss (a person I had lead the charge to hire) didn’t have the same high-view of youth ministry I had. So, in turn, I was getting pulled away from the thing I loved most, youth ministry, and pushed into more of an assistant pastor role. On top of that, I’d go to my local network meetings and because Romeo was seen as this little town in the country and because my church didn’t have 3,000 people like everyone else at the table… I was often completely ignored. In the midst of that I wrote a post called, Am I OK with “Just OK?” As I reread that post this morning my own words from 2005 put tears in my eyes. I have dealt with seasons of self-doubt before and yet here I am, STILL STANDING in the simple knowledge that God is the author and I am not!
  2. Looking around – I’m in an amazing season of life. The last six weeks since Jackson’s birth have been some of the best times we can remember. That little boy has been an amazing gift to our life. Not just in welcoming a new child. But also in how he’s brought our entire family closer together. On top of that, it’s been an amazing six weeks of blessing from our friends as we’ve relished in watching Jackson act as a joy machine everywhere we’ve gone. As I think back over the last year, I just shake my head at how much God has shown Himself. It’s more than just Jackson, (and Ruby, Eliza, Xander, Sofia, Lucy… and the other babies who have arrived into our life) it is in my work, in our community group, in our neighborhood, at our church, at the kids school… God shown Himself clearly and repeatedly.
  3. Looking forward – This Winter and Spring I said no to a ton of things. I missed two YS Palooza’s, I missed a PlanetWisdom, and I missed a few other conferences/opportunities because I wanted to be home for Kristen and the kids. I love those things. And I’m already looking forward to getting out and doing the thing I love most more this Summer: Meeting and encouraging ministry folks. More than that, there are some really fun things on the horizon with our family & our church. Even our garden gives me something fun to look forward to.

Here’s the excerpt that made me smile this morning. I love when my 2005 self preaches to my 2011 self:

How come so many youth workers look up to Mike Yacanelli, but when it comes down to it… They don’t have the balls to live like him? They read his books, they chuckled at his joke “I am the pastor of the slowest growing church in America” but they wouldn’t ever put themselves, their talents, their families, or their reputation in that situation. Let’s face it, a lot of youth workers out there HAVE EGOS THE SIZE OF THEIR YOUTH GROUPS. They are snobs who wouldn’t ever want to work with broken and busted churches. They hear what church I work at and head for the hills because we are too small, too broken, and can’t offer them anything of value. So the reality is, that they are in ministry for themselves and not for others. They have been trained and are getting experienced so that they can have easier jobs with more stuff and less problems. The concept of “others first” or “do unto others as you’d have them do unto you” is foreign to them. A lot of the “big guys” I know have bought into and perpetrate the lie “bigger is better.”

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By Adam McLane

Kristen and Adam live in Ahwahnee, California.

3 comments

  1. Hey Adam,

    Thanks for sharing so transparently. I want to express my gratitude to you for all the things you do for youth workers. Thank you for advocating for youth workers. Thank you for encouraging youth workers. Thank you for the content and resource you create and point us to. Thank you for being focused on “the other.” Thank you for being a friend to so many of us. Thank you for your heart for ministry. Thank you for acknowledging the challenges of going through life stages like the one you are in right now, this helps others who feel the same way to understand that this is part of the reality of life and God is with us speaking (as you demonstrated in you post) in the midst of it in mysterious ways. Thank you most of all for being you.

    Peace to you, my friend.

    Mike

  2. I’m a 46 year old graying y & f minister of over 17 years. I always look forward to the “realness” of your tweets while i literally don’t know you from any Adam.

    My journey has taken me through a period the last few years of being questioned on my qualifications – and some other health stuff. God does deliver in his time and all – but it seems like a really long time often.

    My greatest freedom (still working in this) Has been in releasing what others think about what I do for God to God – very difficult for me – but seems to be ushering in a new season of success – that looks different from what I ever imagined.

    So I find your work refreshing and believe it will soon pass – regardless of what is happening – you are making a difference in a big way.

  3. thanks for your honestly Adam. Being a rookie youth minister I’m already dealing with discouragement at various moments of time and trying to help other rookies along the way. Early on in my ministry I wanted to know at the end of the week that God was PLEASED with my work and desperately wanted a bench mark to go off of. Not sure if this is even right or the best road to take but I ask myself these five questions and if i can say yes to them then I feel better about my time spent. And go figure they come from scripture 🙂 Maybe they will help you.. hope so brother. Blessings.
    1. Am I acting Justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly? (Mich 6:8) 2. Am I preparing God’s people for works of service? (Eph 4:11-16)3. Have I labored with all Christ’s energy? (Col 1:28-29)4.Do I have bloody Knuckles? (Matt 7:7-12) 5. Have I earnestly sought God out? (Heb 11:6)

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