I am convinced that those in ministry are regular targets for the enemy’s schemes. Leaders influence others. If he can get us to fall, there can be devastating effects. Spiritual warfare can take many forms. The enemy loves to see us overwhelmed with responsibilities, bring up old wounds from the past, or shoot darts of discouragement, poisoned with unbelief.
What do you do when you’re numb from the responsibilities or your to-do list? Are you ever paralyzed by what others have said about you or to you? What do you do when you’d rather withdraw from the world?
Here are three things that help me in the fight for faith.
Remind yourself of the truth.
It is during times of spiritual warfare that I have to preach the truth to myself. Some days discouraging thoughts come like bursts of rapid fire. I can barely get one lie extinguished before another comes blazing in. During these times, it is of the utmost importance to arm ourselves with the truth.
And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.John 8:32
With all of the technology available to us today, there are many ways we can remind ourselves of the truth. Two of my go-to battle strategies include listening to Scripture and playing Christian music that turns my attention toward God. When it comes to listening to Scripture, Biblegateway has a feature that will read scripture aloud. There are also many bible apps that will read to you as well. Reminding myself of the truth while I go throughout my day helps fight discouragement and retrains my brain to think His thoughts instead of rehearsing the doubts, fears and hurts that try to overwhelm me.
Memorizing scripture is also important for times like these. Posting them where you can regularly see them, like above the coffee maker or on the fridge, is most helpful. Often, during my quiet time, a few scriptures will stand out to me and I make them my go-to source of strength during specific battles and struggles. Whether we’re struggling with competency (2 Cor 9:8), worth (Dan 10:19) or faith (Eph 6:16), the scriptures are promises from our loving Father and they will see us through whatever battle we’re facing.
Generally, whenever I’m really struggling, my focus is on myself, my feelings, or my circumstances. I don’t have to deny my feelings. Instead, I confess them to my heavenly Father. If I’m rehearsing a hurt in my mind, I release it to Him to take care of.
Oftentimes it’s through confession that I see my own need for forgiveness and grace. I can hurt others with my words and actions, sometimes while not even trying.
I cannot allow bitterness or unforgiveness to creep into my life. The Scripture warns us of the damage these dangers bring (see here). Since this dangerous duo can choke the life out of me, I am more than willing to offer forgiveness and grace to others and release the hurt. We are not perfect people living in a perfect world. We are sinners who hurt each other. That’s why the scripture admonishes us to “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8). The truth prompts me to take my eyes off myself and put the focus on Jesus.
Ministry and busyness go hand in hand. We’re often too fixated on being busy/productive instead of focused on living as a child of God. We’ve only got so much time and energy each day. We can’t keep going full speed without recharging our batteries. An empty well can’t give water.
Our lives are first about our relationship with Christ. Any effective ministry flows from this primary relationship. The best thing you and I can do for anyone is to spend time with the Father.
When we spend time with the Father, we get on the same page as Him. He directs our priorities and paths to accomplish what He wants done each day. We must be filled with His love so that it overflows to those around us. Our worth doesn’t come from our to-do lists. It comes from Christ and His sacrifice on our behalf. This is the Gospel. The key to being recharged is to start every day with fresh promises and energy supplied by the Father.
Two passages that speak to the heart of this struggle are 1 John 5:4 and John 16:33. These passages are helpful because they remind us of the victory we have in Christ.
For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.1 John 5:4
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.John 16:33
You and I are never alone. Our loving Father promises to provide all we need to get through whatever we are facing, even if we’re too battle weary to want to get through. God is faithful and will not leave us to fight all on our own. We are overcomers, even in the midst of the battle.