by Pat Schatzline
One of the greatest attributes that a minister must possess at all times is an ability to truly feel the pain of the hurting, distraught and weary. But what about when we as leaders are the ones who are hurting? Who is there to walk with us? Many times in a ministry leadership role, the safest thing to do is to just push forward. This also the most dangerous thing you could possibly do. I once heard it said, “Hurting people hurt people!” I used to say when I pastored, “I wish someone would call and give me the same advice and counsel I give to people when they are hurting! Alas, most of the time that simply wasn’t a reality. The fact of the matter is that most people in ministry deal with great hurts, and they have had to learn to bear their own burdens.
Every great leader faces seasons where hope seems so far away. The writer of Proverbs said it best in Proverbs 13:12 (NIV), “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Most leaders are at any given time 15 minutes away from wanting to quit! Whether this desire to quit is caused from criticism, small crowds or just plain weariness, it is an epidemic in ministry today. I have learned that God never uses a man or woman who He can easily get rid of! My goal with this article is simply to tell you to hold on! God is only as far away as your knees are to the ground. He is standing over you, around you, and beside you. In fact, Jesus faced every emotion you could possibly face, according to Hebrews 4:15. We must stop the epidemic of resignations and moral failure in the ministry. God has called you to finish strong!
The enemy’s number one goal is to not make you sin or fall away, but simply bring you to a place of ineffectiveness. The enemy knows your influence will diminish and you will essentially be removed from the battle. I say, enough is enough. God didn’t call each of us to live in the darkness of pain, but rather be an example of true freedom and authority.
One of my favorite characters in the Bible is Elijah. Why? Not just because he was powerful in his faith. Not because he is the only man to ever ride a tornado to heaven. But because I feel he best represents what a leader feels when they are at the end of themselves. By the way, the end of yourself is usually the beginning of God!
Elijah understood a simple fact in ministry: people will always love your anointing, but they wont be able to handle your humanity. Many leaders I know always seem to be in a battle. Maybe that battle is with people or groups, or maybe the battle is caused from within. James 4:1, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?”
The story of Elijah is significant. He had just had an unbelievable victory. He had called fire down on the prophets of Baal (I Kings 18:40). This day was definitely a “win” for him. If this was today, he probably would have sent a newsletter to the whole world with pictures and testimonies. Yet how is it that a leader can walk out of the greatest accomplishment and then suddenly find himself living in a dark cloud? The Bible says in I Kings 19:1-4 that Elijah received word that Jezebel wanted to kill him. Elijah ran for his life. In fact, he even became suicidal! In I Kings 19:4b, he says, “I have had enough, Lord. Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Elijah was at the end of his rope and was ready to give up! He is not alone! Check out these statistics. This desire to quit on God’s call is even prevalent today amongst Gods chosen leaders:
1500 pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention in their churches.
70% of pastors do not have a close friend, confidant or mentor.
56% of pastors’ wives say they have no close personal friends.
50% of pastors’ marriages will end in divorce.
70% of pastors constantly fight depression.
These statistics are startling. It is said that all great leaders have great highs and great lows. The enemy wants to keep you in the darkness! If the enemy can sedate you long enough to keep you from awakening to his attack then he wins. God has ordained your days, but then life exposed you to insecurity, fear and hurts. I must remind you that God has promised in his word that he can deliver you. You deserve to be a healthy leader. Your family deserves a healthy leader. Believe it or not God anointed you with flaws.
There are three emotions that can destroy a leader:
This emotion has the ability to cripple even the greatest leader. It can come in like a cloud. It overwhelms to the point that you are crippled. When we feel as though we do not matter or like we can’t accomplish anything, depression can take root! Depression is a blinding emotion! Find your hope again! Colossians 1:13 (NIV), “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.” The darkness always ends!
I must remind you that darkness never lasts forever. Remember Psalms 139:11-14.God knew you before anyone knew you! He hasn’t forgotten you. Just as He knit you together in the womb, He can knit you back together today. What you must understand is that there is a war to stop your future. Hope is your greatest weapon against depression. God can restore your hope. God will restore your hope in the darkest hour. Psalms 25:3-5, “No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame. Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”
This emotion has the ability to rob a leader of their God-authority. Hurts and injustice can bring a strong leader under the control of this deceiving emotion. Insecurity can cause a leader to believe people are out to get them or that they simply do not matter to others. Insecure people are dangerous people, because many times they will do whatever they can to find security. We must remember the one who called us is always able to deliver us! Get your mind back on him! Col 3:1-4, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Let God restore your security! Think on things above! Remember, Romans 8:6, “The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; “
When a leader lives in fear they lose all joy for life. We all know how controlling fear can be. I have battled this in ministry. I once had to be delivered from the fear of flying. This was a major issue since I fly nearly every week. I have met great leaders who suffer from panic attacks. Fear has the ability to create havoc out of thin air. A preconceived mindset of disaster or offense can destroy or cripple you. Jesus gave us a promise in Luke 21:14-15, “But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.” If you are fearful of losing something, you truly don’t posses it! Remember that God has not given us a spirit of fear… (II Timothy 1:7). You are too important and valuable for these emotions to control you. God has amazing plans and dreams for you. My wife once told me, “It is impossible to have compassion without first having pain!” This is your moment to rise up and lead. What you have been through is a great indication of who you are called to. If you have walked through these emotions now it is time to heal others. But first you have to get a plan for the next time the attack comes.
Elijah eventually got free of his moment of despair. How? I Kings 19 showed us a plan that worked for Elijah. I believe this plan will work for you and I as well.
The Elijah Plan for Emotional Restoration:
1. Lay down/Rest -1 Kings 19:5, “Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.”
2. Get up and Eat- 1 Kings 19:6, “He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.
7 The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.”
3. Go on a journey for God- 1 Kings 19:8, “So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.”
4. Find a cave- 1 Kings 19:9-10, “There he went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelite have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
5. Get in His presence- 1 Kings 19: 11-13, “The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
6. Talk to God- 1 Kings 19:14, “He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelite have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
7. Use your anointing- 1 Kings 19:15-16, “The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. 16 Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet.”
8. Find your disciple- 1 Kings 19:19-20, “So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother good-by,” he said, “and then I will come with you.” “Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?” So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his attendant.”
Pat Schatzline is one of America’s leading communicators and evangelists. Pat and his wife Karen co-founded Mercy Seat Ministries in 1997. Pat has ministered to over 2 million people as he has traveled the globe ministering God’s love and power at churches, conferences, camps, retreats and universities. Pat is the keynote speaker at some of the largest youth conferences in the world. He is known for his crazy humor, unique ability to communicate God’s Word with passion and illustrations, and most of all, for his deep desire to see a generation experience the power of God and God’s amazing love.
Pat is known as a father and mentor of many of America’s top leaders. Pat and Karen founded the Forerunner School of Ministry in 2001. Since the initial launch of The Forerunner School of Ministry, they have launched hundreds into full time ministry.
This year, Pat launched his new, award-winning book through Charisma Media in January of 2013 called, “Why is God so mad at Me?” The book deals directly with a generation’s lost perspective on the character and love of God. The book fervently declares, “God is not mad at you, but He is mad about you!” Family Christian Stores, Lifeway, Barnes and Noble, and many other mainstream retailers spotlighted the book. In February of 2013, his book was awarded the “National Critics Choice” award.
at and Karen recently established iAMcalled Conferences (www.iamcalled.me). This is a conference dedicated to the young in ministry, to help them establish a foundation for a life of ministry. They also recently co-founded the “Mercy Seat Evangelist” website at www.mercyseatevangelists.com. This site is dedicated to the launching of young evangelists across the world.