Written by Jared Lanza
I am a church planter. I like to call it the Special Forces of the church ministry world. We are the ones who are dropped into enemy territory with an aggressive plan to upset the status quo and establish the Kingdom of God there. There is an air of “kicking the Devil’s butt and taking names” among us. Church planters must have nerves of steel, and I do. Most of the time.
I’m also a sensitive guy who thinks a lot, overanalyzes things, and can get frustrated or discouraged when my plan of action doesn’t succeed the way I intend. Both sides of me coexist, and the good news is that God still chose me for his purposes, although I do not always know why. There have been many times in the short history of my church’s existence when I have wondered if I was the right guy for the job. Times when I’ve felt alone, discouraged, and thought of giving up. Maybe you’ve felt that way before, whether you’re a church planter or not. Discouragement and disillusionment do not discriminate who they afflict. Maybe you are in that place right now.
Throughout my life, I have had to find ways to pull myself out of the pit of despair so that I could continue with the important task ahead. It’s taken a lot of work, but I’ve found three critical sources that I draw from regularly to help keep me focused through crisis, fear, and doubt. I believe they will do the same for you. They may seem obvious, but they should not be underestimated.
There is a time of preparation before the battle. There is a season of learning, growing, and dreaming well before your hands begin the work you are called to. This season is an incredibly important incubation period where what you are about to undertake will seep into your very DNA. The calling that God has placed on your life, whatever it may be, will become a part of you as you learn about it. As you dream about it. As you prepare for it. This incubation period will become like a well that you will draw on in your darkest of days ahead. It will cause you to remember why you are doing what you are doing. You will draw strength from it and know within your bones that you could not do anything else because it is now inside of you. When you are facing a crisis of faith, remember your incubation period and draw strength from it.
Friends & Family
There is strength in numbers, and during the hard times none are better than friends and family. Surround yourself with people you can trust and with whom you can be honest. Typically, friends and family are the ones who have heard your dreams and vision for the task to which you are called. Use them. They believe in you! Draw strength and encouragement from these gifts from God. They are the ones you can be honest with. Share how you are feeling and listen. Allow them to give you fresh perspective. Ask for their help when you need it the most.
Quiet Place with God
This might seem obvious, but often it is the most forgotten. If you’re like me, your first thought is to cry out to God and ask where he is or what he is doing rather than be quiet and still in his presence. What happens though, when I find a quiet place and silence myself before God, is I receive peace and confidence. My tendency is to vent frustration or fear to God, and he listens, but he waits patiently for me to stop talking and simply be with him. When I do that, my spirit connects with his and an indescribable transcendent flood of new perspective, excitement, and confidence washes through me. It’s in those times where I am renewed and given my nerve back. When you are in your darkest moments, get to a place where it’s just you and God, and don’t come out until you’ve received his undeniable refreshing.
Jared Lanza is the Pastor of Encounter Church in Pittsburgh, PA. He loves teaching people and seeing them discover their full potential. He is married to his wife, Heather, is Dad to two incredible kids, Autumn and Lincoln, and loves playing with their gremlin-like puppy, Gizmo.