Discouragement can find subtle ways to enter a leader’s life. A beloved, valued teammate gets restless and moves away; you need to work extra hours on a short term project and become physically exhausted; you neglect your daily prayer and devotion time; something goes wrong at home and it seems that for months nothing has worked according to plan. You begin to evade a few responsibilities; you begin to blame others; and you blur the facts to meet your own emotional needs. Before you know it, discouragement has landmines buried in your path and all around you. Discouragement doesn’t always have to be a process and take place over time. Sometimes discouragement hits a leader after a great loss or a great victory.
Read 1 Kings 19:1-15.
Elijah became a discouraged leader following a great victory over the false prophets of the land. Emotionally drained, physically spent, full of self-pity, Elijah broke. He became discouraged after a threat from royalty and ran for his life. If you have been around leadership long you know the feeling Elijah had in his stomach and the paralysis he experienced being totally unable to fix the situation.
So what did God do to help His leader through this difficult time in his life? He allowed him to rest; He assured him that He still loved him and had a mission for him; and He gave Elijah some assignments including selecting and developing another leader, Elisha.
It was 1975 when I experienced a physical injury that would not heal and ultimately, four years later, forced me to change careers. For the first time in my life I experienced discouragement that led to depression and eventually to such a low spot in my life that there was no way out.
Similar to Elijah, I thought it might be easier to die than live.
Also, similar to Elijah, God gave grace. He allowed me a time of physical rest; He removed all responsibility other than simple tasks for a time to allow me emotional rest; and He gave me mission. The great discouragement and depression breaker for me was God’s Word and in particular the book of Psalms, and even more specifically the Psalms of praise. I found that I could not have thoughts of praise and discouragement at the same time.
Are you discouraged? Even if no one else has noticed, are you living every day with a desperation inside that threatens to destroy your effectiveness in every area of your life? Are the facts blurring and does it seem you are looking to others to meet your emotional needs? There is hope! God deals with each leader individually. Just as He had a plan for Elijah, one of his great leaders, and for me, just an average man that simply loves Him, He has a plan for you. Hang on to Him as if you are a drowning person and He is your rescuing lifeguard.
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