When Disappointment Finds You in Ministry

It will eventually find you. No one is exempt. No one can escape it. You can’t do ministry and never experience it at some point.

Disappointment.

The registration for that event didn’t get the traction I hoped it would.
I didn’t communicate effectively.
If it could go wrong, it did go wrong.
The details just never came together.

We’re human. It’s only natural for us to feel disappointment at some (make that many) points in our ministry.  Here’s 3 questions to ask yourself to help navigate through the disappointment.

Is this disappointment I feel about me and my platform or is it about the loss of effectively helping people draw closer to Jesus?

Just this week I was having a hard time getting people registered for an event we do in our preschool ministry. I felt disappointment come creeping in when I began to realize we may have to cancel the event all together. Several thoughts flooded my brain, but one of the first ones was, “What will people think of me if I have to cancel? Will they think I am a failure? Will they think I’m not good at my job?”

At that point, I have to check my heart for motivation. Is the motivation for me to point people toward Christ or is it to point people to myself? Ministry is personal. Our lives and our hearts are all poured into this. And because of this, we have to constantly do a motivation check to make sure we are never getting to a point where we are out of balance - making what we do more about us than the One who called us and created us to live on mission for Him.

What can I learn from my disappointment?

Leaders are learners. And not just learners from other people, we have to be learners from ourselves. The best way to truly learn is in the trenches…in the daily hands-on of ministry. We have to be constantly evaluating ourselves and our ministry so we can be the most effective.

At a marriage ministry conference at Watermark Church in Dallas, they told the group a method they use in evaluating their ministry. “Keep, Start, Stop.”

What should you keep about what you’re doing?
What should you start doing?
What should you stop doing?

I ask myself these questions every time I am evaluating something in my ministry. I also ask my leadership team these questions to get their take on it, too. And trust me, there are many times I have to consciously toughen up my skin. It’s hard to hear other people be critical about something you care so much about, but it makes us better. Constructive feedback from another can be one of the best tools to help better you.

How am I handling the disappointment?

Disappointment is inevitable. What can separate a good leader from a bad leader is how you handle the disappointment when it comes. 

Do you let it scare you from trying new things?
Does it close you off from other people because you are fearful for them to know you failed?
Do you find yourself stuck?

We have to grieve our disappointments and then be willing to move on - willing to move on as people who are refining themselves and their ministry all the time. 

“He who called you will equip you.” God can and will equip us through the disappointments.