I have been thinking about encouragement the past two weeks. Last week I met with a clergy friend for whom I am acting as a mentor. Today, I had lunch with a clergy friend just to swap stories, share resources, and generally enjoy some time together.
I shared with my friend last week that I think discouragement is part of the nature of ministry. To serve as the pastor of a church is to experience discouragement- on a fairly regular basis. Perhaps this is because pastors, by definition, want to change the world. World changing experiences don't happen every day. The best thing to do is acknowledge it and pray through it.
I also think that this is has something to do with the nature of being alive. It seems to be a common human trait to focus on problems more than good things. It is really a spiritual discipline to practice reflecting on reasons to be grateful. I always remember one sermon I heard at my home church in the mid90s. The pastor talked about a modern day parable, in which the devil was asked if he had ever found a heart he could not tempt or penetrate in some way. His reply was that the only impenetrable heart he had come up against was a grateful heart. That was a word from the Lord for me. I still remember where I was sitting...Like some sort of shining aha moment in a movie.
So, on my way to lunch today, I thanked God for his love poured out for me on the cross and in the resurrection. God used that time of eating together to bless and encourage me even more. And now, as I sit here this afternoon with PILES of stuff to do, I think about all I have to be grateful for. I have a roof over my head, food on my table, a wonderful husband and children and extended family (my sister and her family are coming stay a few days as they move- yahoo!). I serve a church that I love, filled with loving, beautiful people, who do the Lord's work in so many ways... truly, I have reason to be encouraged.