My friend Clayton King, who has never served as a senior pastor (and had not expected to), suddenly found himself leading one of the nation’s largest congregations as interim pastor of NewSpring Church in Anderson, South Carolina.
In a recent interview, he talked about leading a church through a period of crisis and transition, and he offers insights that all of us need to hear. Clayton observed: “Fight discouragement with all you have. Pray for the Lord to renew to you the joy of your salvation. The greatest way to fight discouragement is to let the Word of God be the primary source of your emotions….
“You start to think you’re worse than you are because you listen to all the criticism that’s thrown at you. Or you start to think you’re better than you are because you listen to all the praise people give you. We have to shut both of those voices out. Don’t let the praise go to your head. Don’t let the criticism go to your heart. Keep it about Jesus.
“The second thing I would say to a pastor is this: do not isolate yourself. If the enemy can isolate us, he can assassinate us. We are so vulnerable when we are alone. The pastorate is a scary and lonely place because you get into your own headspace.
“Invite friends into your life. I invite men into my life to watch football games, to eat, to go hunting, to go fishing. We hang out for a couple hours and confess our weaknesses. We pastors fall into the trap of feeling like we can’t be honest with brothers because they may look at us differently. But it’s up to us to have people in our lives we can confess our weakness to. James 5:16 says, ‘Confess your faults to each other and pray for each other so that you might be healed.’
“If we don’t have those people in our lives for accountability, confession and friendship, we’re going to end up isolated. We’re going to end up out of ministry. Or we’re going to end up depressed and sick and unhealthy, and that affects our wives, our children and our congregations.