Our choices during discouraging ministry seasons

By Katie Orr

I didn’t grow up dreaming of being in ministry. Yet looking back I can see how God faithfully prepared and equipped me for this unexpected calling of being a pastor’s wife and Bible teacher. There is abundant joy and satisfaction that comes from seeing God work to bring His bride into a closer representation of Christ. And when He chooses to use me and my husband to bring about spiritual fruit, it is an indescribable honor.

However, those moments of triumph and rejoicing are often few and far between. Ministry is seasonal, therefore we have to walk through the winter months in order to appreciate and enjoy spring. It is during the cold winter that the battle for my heart, mind and joy is most intense. Discouragement and dissatisfaction easily creeps in and takes over. Even though I have a great undercurrent of confidence that God is faithfully and powerfully at work during these barren seasons, it’s difficult. Attitudes stink. Actions are stymied. Temptations abound.

The pressures involved with being a pastor’s wife are often more than I can bear. And the very things that add pressure are usually situations that can’t be shared with people in the congregation. This often creates loneliness and isolation. The longer I stay in that darkness, the harder lies and temptations become to combat. But, in the spirit of James 5:16—and in hopes to name these temptations as unhealthy and unhelpful—I confess to you the following temptations in discouraging seasons of ministry that trip me up (and the truths to fight them):

  • I’m tempted to internally critique our size, attendance and facilities. Instead, I choose to be grateful for the high percentage of givers and faithful servants we have in our congregation.
  • I’m tempted to allow anger and bitterness to take root when I see Christians prioritize better sleep, family time, sport activities and personal pursuits over regular attendance. Instead, I choose to remember that we are all a work in progress.
  • I’m tempted to respond with jealousy and envy at the converts, baptisms and new member celebrations of other churches in our area. Instead, I choose joy and gladness as God grows His kingdom.
  • I’m tempted to become embarrassed, ashamed and frustrated when someone visits the church and never returns. Instead, I choose to trust that God’s plan for that family or individual is good, even if they end up at a different church.
  • I’m tempted to become frustrated at the generational differences in the depth of community. Instead, I choose to rejoice that I get to be a part of both the great curriculum and structure of my Sunday school class as well as the comfortable fellowship of our home group.
  • I’m tempted to take it personally when people don’t show up to Bible study. Instead, I choose to be grateful that I get to teach His Word, even if it’s just for one eager soul.
  • I’m tempted to give into the grass-is-greener mentality and forget that all churches have their issues. Instead, I choose to believe in God’s good and faithful plan for my here and now.

I don’t share these with you to further my complaints. As sisters in Christ, I need your prayers to strengthen and lift me up when I am a recipient of those lies. Also, my hunch is that you, too, might identify with some of these temptations and can probably continue this list with your own. Ladies, we need not hold on to them and try to overcome them individually. Within the context of community, by the power of His Spirit and the example of Christ, we can receive healing from the hurt, discouragement and hopelessness we’re tempted to believe in the discouraging spiritual seasons.

Which of these temptations do you identify with the most? Do you struggle with any not on this list? Let’s renew our confession of our desperate need for God’s work in our lives, together, today.

Published March 16, 2017

P.S. Get our best content in your inbox

We send one email per week chock full of articles from a variety of Send Network voices.

Katie Orr

Katie lives in Harrodsburg, Ky., with her husband, Chris Orr, pastor of Pioneer Baptist Church. They served on staff with Cru for six years before her family left campus ministry for the work of church revitalization. They have three young children. Katie currently serves as Social Media Specialist for Flourish. She loves to equip busy women to experience God and is creator of the FOCUSed15 Bible studies, which train women how to have intentional Bible study in only 15 minutes a day. Learn more about her Bible studies at FOCUSed15.com.