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The Previous Play is Under Review

Watching NFL football has become challenging. It can be an emotional rollercoaster as you wait to see the outcome of a particular play and how it will affect your favorite team. New rules have made it tough for officials who now depend on experts far away from the playing field to render decisions.

While watching a recent Steelers game, I started celebrating a late game touchdown only to have it reversed by the review.  As an avid Steelers fan, I didn’t like the call but tried to move on!

I have been thinking about my ministry friends who have experienced unexpected reversals or setbacks in ministry. Whether it was an unmet expectation that led to a firing, or burnout from the demands of schedule and meeting people’s needs, disappointment from ministry colleagues, or family emergencies.

How is it possible to deal with reversals? I believe part of it is our spiritual foundation. Our dependency on God for strength and direction is essential to going forward in the face of unforeseen reversals. Of course, this sounds like ministry 101. Why do I even suggest it?  In my coaching practice, I consistently urge pastors to work at keeping their own spiritual buckets full. It’s easy to give out, it can be more challenging to feed your own soul. Often, I find that some pastors even find it difficult to “attend a worship service.”

Solid relationships are also vital to help cope with ministry disappointment. I am grateful to have friends who have supported me during some difficult ministry time. I have friends who agree to social time together if we exclude “church talk.”  It’s healthy! From family, golf buddies, lay people, and pastor friends from previous staff situations, I have been blessed with a great network of support.

I may still be frustrated when I disagree with an NFL referee call, but when ministry reversals happen, I will continue to trust God and listen to the counsel of my family and friends. I must make the effort to be a worshipper; I would encourage you to do that and to build a network of support.

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