How To Overcome The 7 Facets Of Discouragement 

Last Monday, I had the privilege of spending time with a group of church planters and business leaders at J.C. Worley and Go Church’s conference. There were so many highlights to the day but the part that stood out to me the most was getting to hear from Dayle O’Sheilds.  

Dayle and his wife Terry have been pastoring the church they planted in Gaithersburg, Maryland for the past thirty-one plus years. Their first service reached seven people (one family with five kids!). Now they reach multiple thousands every weekend. 

Friends, that is called faithfulness over DECADES! When my man opened his mouth, we were all leaning in and listening.

Here is some of the gold that Dale gave us. I know this will encourage you. Especially on a Monday!

Whether you lead your home, a business, a church or just your own life, discouragement is something we all have to learn to overcome and not just cope with!

Discouragement left unchecked can lead to depression. Depression can be debilitating and sideline a leader faster than just about anything.

Let’s talk about how to beat this common adversary called “discouragement”.   

How To Overcome The 7 Facets Of Discouragement:

1.   Disappointments

Disappointments come in all shapes and sizes. People disappoint us. Circumstances disappoint us.

“Disappointment is the gap between our expectation and our experience.”           –Steven Furtick 

Image credit.

Image credit.

One of the hardest disappointments to overcome is when we disappoint ourselves. When we fail to live up to our own personal expectations. The apostle Peter knew what this was like- so do we.

After promising to never, ever deny Jesus, he was totally broken after he folded in the face of adversity. He went back to fishing a broken man. He not only disappointed the Lord, but he failed to live up to his own expectations.

His confidence was shattered.

We’ve all been there.

We fail to reach a goal. We fail to start the new diet, routine, best practice, habit, etc. If we’re not careful we end up hooking up a “personal kicking-machine.”

Peter denied Jesus three times and it is no accident that Jesus lovingly came and restored Peter with three relational questions in one conversation.

Disappointment will always seek to define our lives. Yet, we get to make the choice to live for something and Someone greater than our current frustration.

“Faith doesn’t deny a problem's existence. It denies it a place of influence.” –Bill Johnson

Leader, it’s time to move on.

Let’s deny disappointment power and influence over our souls today.

2.   Delays

This is a BIG one! We all hate to wait. We ALL have to learn to wait but FEW of us actually master the skill!

We hate long lines. We hate waiting in a doctor’s waiting room forever, only to be ushered by a nurse into another waiting room. 

Image credit: Vince Gerhardy 

Image credit: Vince Gerhardy 

Here are some "Laws of Waiting" psychologists have studied for years:

· Unoccupied time feels longer than occupied time. (Watching a movie, three hours goes by. Staying awake when you can’t sleep, three hours could feel like three days!)

· Uncertain waits are longer than known waits. (No end in sight feels like an eternity. A nine-month pregnancy for women can seem like an eternity, but at least there is a due date!)

· Unexplained waits are longer than explained waits. (Sitting in traffic with no explanation is a nightmare. You’re hoping it’s not a tragic accident, but wishing you only knew what the heck is holding things up!)

· Unfair waits are longer than fair waits. (Waiting in line at the DMV or deli counter and they skip over your ticket number!)

· Solo waits feel longer than group waits. (Stuck at an airport by yourself.)

· The greater the perceived value, the longer you are willing to wait. (A man named Jacob waited and worked for the right to marry his wife Rachel for fourteen years. Because he loved her so much, the Bible said it was like a day for him!)

Leader, please remember that not every delay is from the devil. There is a thing called a “divine delay.”

At times, God will slow things up around you, to develop something within you.

Things start going incredibly slow around you, so that He can work profoundly deep within you.

In those times, you’ll want to remember that God’s delay is not the same as His denial. He is with you.

“Many times God seemingly pauses the advancement of His Kingdom for the development of one of His leaders.” –Kevin Myers

3.   Disabilities

A disability does not have to be a major physical impairment. A disability is anything that you wish you could do better.

A disability can be anything that you wish you, your team, or your organization could do better, but presently can’t.

Unfortunately, we all have them.

Fortunately, we don’t have to be stopped by them or let them hold us back from reaching our redemptive potential.

Here’s the secret. We can’t deny them. We have to learn to deal with them.

Some disabilities can be strengthened through skill-training and practice. Others cannot.

Some disabilities disappear when grace from God is given.

An impartation of grace literally empowers you to do something you could not do before.

Yet, sometimes God gives us grace to endure a disability rather than remove it.

The apostle Paul had to learn this leadership secret.

God will not remove every problem and barrier from our lives. Some of them actually display the greatness of God. Paul learned to boast in his weakness and reveal new levels of God’s power!

I don't recommend becoming a victim of your circumstances. Ever.

Any person who knows Jesus Christ is never a powerless victim, living without options. Yet, there will be times when it seems like the disability you are dealing with isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Remember, “People will admire you for your strengths but will connect with you over your weaknesses.”

4.   Difficulties

Image credit: Kevin Green wired 

Image credit: Kevin Green wired 

It is not the presence of a problem that causes leaders to give up. It is the continual presence of problems that eventually grinds leaders down.

I’ve heard is said from physical trainers that, “Pain is weakness leaving your body!” That may be true, but there is only so much pain a person can endure.

Whenever a person feels that their problems are permanent or totally pervasive, they find themselves on the verge of quitting something.

Leadership is about learning how to stay inspired. It's about learning how to not let the “grind get you.”

Life can be mundane. Life can be boring. This side of heaven, life can just be flat out hard.

Yet, it’s the HARD stuff that teaches us the GOOD stuff.

The next time you are facing a major difficulty, remind yourself that you have more promises than problems.

You may even have to begin listing them on a page. Seriously. Fold the page in half. Put all of your most pressing problems on one side and correlating promises on the other side.

Do the math. Your promises will always outnumber your problems.

This won’t change your problems automatically, but it will change your perspective almost instantly.

5.   Drain

Image credit: Hoboken Grace

Image credit: Hoboken Grace

This one is tough because it always happens slowly, subtly. Like a battery that slowly loses its charge, we all drain energy- all the time. If we are not careful this drain of energy can also drain our courage. Listen to some good advice from the ages:

“Tired eyes rarely see a good future.” –Dr. Mike Murdock

“Fatigue will make cowards of us all.” –Vince Lombardi

In the Old Testament, there is a story of the prophet Elijah defeating and killing 400 prophets of Baal. He had an unprecedented and miraculous victory over his adversaries.

The ratio wasn’t fair. With God, we are always the majority.

The display of God’s power was unparalleled. Elijah should’ve been on a high but instead he was crashing on the inside.

Irrational fear began to overwhelm him when one woman (Jezebel) threatened to take his life. He began to rehearse to himself how alone he was. How no one else was still serving God and living for the same mission.

My man just saw fire fall from heaven and 400 of his enemies defeated in one day!

Why would he be so afraid of this one woman? Drain.

His fatigue turned into fear. His insecurity fed isolation thinking.

Elijah was exhausted so he became fearful and deeply depressed.

This is incredibly easy to do. You get so busy doing things that you forget that you are being drained of your energy.

As a pastor and speaker, this is why I don’t trust my own thoughts on Mondays.

Whatever my internal self-talk may be saying to me on a Monday, I remind myself that I’m tired. And that I just experienced an adrenaline dump after being “on” speaking and interacting with people over the weekend.

“Be careful how you talk to yourself-you are always listening.”

Depression and drain are close friends.
The good news for you and I is that God was able to rouse Elijah out of his depression. What did the trick?

A whisper.

One freshly spoken word from God was able to break Elijah out of his funk.

Bonus thought: This one word from God was focused on anointing (empowering) and raising up the next generation. When you feel personally depleted and drained, it may be time to lift up your eyes and see who is around you that you can encourage!

Leader, please don’t underestimate the value of energy management.

It was a life-changing moment when the Holy Spirit said to me,

“When energy management is neglected, time management is nullified.”

Take some time. Quiet your soul. Let a whisper from heaven fill you back up.

Most of us are far more drained than we even realize. We try to rest but our rest ends up being little more than recovery. We need to learn the hard work of rest.

Something happens in the nothing. Something vitally important to the state of our souls happens in the nothing.

Sabbath. Rest. Hobby well. Give yourself permission to prioritize some “breathing room.” Intentionally build better margins. Learn the difference between recovery, rest and actual replenishment.

You are worth it. The cause you live for is worth it. Please don’t let drain defeat you!

 6.   Declines

Image credit: Seth Godin

Image credit: Seth Godin

There is not a leader on the planet who wouldn’t love to live up and to the right in every area: finances, emotions, church attendance, customer acquisition, parenting, romance, and more.

The trouble is, that is not how life is lived. Life is lived in seasons.

God is so into seasons that He said He decided to keep them around until the end of time. So, as long as you and I live on this planet we will have to embrace this concept called “seasons.”

That is tough news when we are in a great season and don’t want it to end. But it is great news when we are in an extremely difficult season and it can’t end soon enough.

"Seasons are not a life-sentence." 

Seasons always change.

God is eternal, seasons are not. Seasons are temporal.

All of us will experience “the dip.” Seth Godin wrote a great book by that title. Every leader is tempted in those times to deny it is happening or worse, to fight against it.

Most of the time we make the mistake of personalizing the dip. Often the problem is not personal.

 In actuality, “dips” commonly happen for two other reasons:

·Practical. A system is broken that needs to be fixed or innovated so progress can ensue.

·Spiritual. Remember, we don’t wrestle with just flesh and blood.

We naturally want to go from mountain top to mountain top.

God’s strategy to get us from mountain top to mountain top is summed up in one word: valleys.

“Just because you find yourself in a valley doesn’t mean you took a wrong turn.”  –Larry Osborne

 “God makes valleys while man builds bridges.” –Leif Hetland  

Embrace the season you are in. There is actually gold in the valleys that you can’t find on the mountain top. We all go through seasons of growing and seasons of pruning.

The PRUNING we face today, is for the GROWTH God is setting us up to experience tomorrow!

Be encouraged. It’s easier said than done but the next time you are experiencing decline, try to remember…

 “You aren’t going around in CIRCLES, you’re just living your life in God-ordained CYCLES!” 

7.   Departures & Desertions.

As leaders we sometimes forget that we are also human.

We are far more fragile than we’d like to admit.

Even towards the end of the apostle Paul’s life, he was remembering those who deserted him. People will come and go in our lives. No matter how loyal you are, people make their own choices.

Picture yourself as a bus driver.

At every stop (season) people will enter your bus and people will exit the bus. The goal is to stay the course, keep the vision, and make it to your God-given destination.

Think about it, people are always in one of three categories in your life: coming, going or remaining. It’s a fact of life.

God had to tell Samuel to stop crying over King Saul. God was moving on to King David. Samuel needed to let go of the past so that he could embrace the present thing God was doing.

"Relationship with God is based on what He is currently saying, not just what He has previously said."

When people come and go into our lives for various reasons, it is hard to know exactly what is happening. Most of the time we take it personally. Leader it is time to forgive them, love them, bless them, put up a boundary if necessary, and step into your new season.

 When you feel at the end of your rope…

When you are tempted to cash it all in….

When you have prematurely penned your resignation letter…

When you are on the mat and discouragement has you just about to tap out…


Here is a truth none of us can afford to forget:

Image credit: Dee Brestin 

Image credit: Dee Brestin 

"A bruised reed He will not break, a smoldering wick He will not snuff out."-Isaiah 42:3 & Matthew 12:20.

Jesus pulled this prophetic promise from the Old Testament into our New Testament reality. The promise is the times when you feel like you have more smoke than fire and are about to give up...God will breathe His Spirit onto your struggling ember until it becomes a flame again. 

Today, you may feel like your life and ministry is more smoke than fire.

Take heart, the breath of heaven can change that in a moment. 

“Discouragement is common but it doesn’t have to be normal.”

The new normal of the Kingdom is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14)

Let’s make an agreement. Let’s break up with discouragement. Let’s remind ourselves what is really normal.

God has given you and I everything we need to defeat all seven facets of our most common enemy.

If this post was helpful to you, please take a moment to subscribe and share this post with your friends. That small step helps in a big way.

Part of my calling is to be a “hope-dealer” to other leaders. Thank you for your help in fulfilling part of that call.

Join The Conversation. Leave A Comment.  Which of these 7 principles is helping you the most in this season?

Joshua FinleyComment