What to Do With Disappointment and Frustration

A friend of mine, who serves in university campus ministry, recently told me he sometimes wrestles with the feeling that he is wasting his life. He knows the reasons why this is not true with his head, but he was at a low point. This conversation was a moment of brutal transparency.

How_To_Manage_Disappointment

If I’m honest, I’ve felt this way before myself during moments of intense frustration or deep disappointment. (In case you’re wondering, that’s not where I’m at right now, and this blog isn’t a subtle cry for help!) Regardless of what your job or where you serve, I’m guessing you may have felt the sting of disappointment yourself.

While I can’t make all our frustrations disappear, here are a few strategies that help me to manage disappointment, maintain a healthy perspective in ministry, and keep going in what God has called me to do.

Resolve to Focus on the Good

When faced with disappointment we need to focus on areas where things are going well.

Paul gives this advice to the first century church at Philippi. He writes,

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9).

Notice that the “peace” (v. 9) follows thinking about things “admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy” (v. 8). Whatever may be going wrong, there are surely some things going right. Focus on those things.

God Hasn’t Lost Control

In moments of disappointment it’s important to remember that God is still in control. While we would like to think that His plans always involve us looking, feeling, and just being awesome, that’s not how it works. He uses even our failures to accomplish His good purposes (Psalm 100:5, Acts 17:26).

When we’re feeling the sting of disappointment, we need to remind our hearts as well as our heads that “all things God works for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28). We need to remember that feelings, while not to be ignored, aren’t the ultimate measure of truth.

You’re Engaged in a Spiritual Battle

You’re engaged in a spiritual battle (Ephesians 6).

You know this. You’ve probably heard it a thousand times, but you need this reminder: not everything that you feel is just a natural reaction to your circumstances. Spiritual attacks can intensify the natural effect of the circumstances on our emotional state.

Would the devil, described as a prowling lion (I Peter 5:8), like to add pressure to the disappointment we feel in our souls? I’m thinking that’s a “yes.”

Be alert and be aware. Don’t roll over. Don’t give in. Fight.

Lean Into Community

We don’t always feel the need for real friendships. Sometimes it’s just easier and faster to go without real community. But we weren’t meant to walk alone in life and ministry, and this need is most felt during low moments.

Too many of us Christians allow the shame of failure to drive us into isolation. This is the wrong move. We need friends who will help us regain perspective when we’re stuck.

Biblical accountability isn’t just having someone there to tell you what you’re doing wrong and where you need to grow. It’s having someone there who can save you from yourself when you can’t even see straight.

In times of deep disappointment we need to run to trusted friendships. We need to pursue those who will help “bear our burdens” in love (Galatians 6:2). We need to lean into community.

Let Your Pain Fuel Your Prayer

One benefit to feeling deep disappointment is that it can bring us to our knees. As a Christian, this is the most powerful place to be. By meeting with God in prayer we have a productive outlet for what could be destructive disappointment.

John Bunyan said, “Prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge for Satan.”Earnest prayers help us to protect our souls. It’s the vehicle for us to lift up our hearts to God.We can give Him all our anxiety because He cares for us (I Peter. 5:7).Through prayer we can prevent our disappointment from turning into discouragement.

Question: Do you find these strategies helpful in your own life? How do you overcome frustrations and disappointments in your life or work? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

A version of this article first appeared on CampusMinistry.org 

What’s Most Essential for a New Believer?

I’m always happy to see people respond positively to the Gospel message. Whether it’s in a group setting or through a personal conversation, I know the decision to trust in Jesus Christ is the best decision a person can ever make. But, in those moments, I’m usually bracing myself on the inside, hoping it’s the real deal, hoping that they actually walk this out and grow into strong, life-long disciples of Jesus. I know that not everyone who shows the initial sign of a positive response ends up living a Christ-transformed life. What is it that makes the difference between those who do and those who don’t? What’s most essential for a new believer to get off to the right start?

Most Essential for New Believer

When we help others follow Jesus, we are helping them build their lives. But how they build, especially during the critical early phase, matters greatly.

A Solid Foundation is Essential

Imagine a building with a foundation that is still being dug, the concrete not yet poured. It looks like nothing at that point—just a large, barren pit in the ground. This building project is still in the early stages, but what happens during this phase is absolutely critical to the quality and stability of the building. If the foundation is properly laid, the building will be strong. If the foundation is poorly laid, the cost of repairing it later will be significant, if it can even be fixed at all. A good foundation is essential.

The Storm-Proof Life

Both Jesus and Paul referenced construction to illustrate the importance of living wisely (Matthew 7:24-29; I Corinthians 3:10). Jesus said that if the foundation (starting point) isn’t right in a person’s life, when the “storms” inevitably come, those storms will cause that person’s life to be destroyed.

Simply put, a “good foundation” is a habit of hearing and obeying what Jesus says. Jesus explains saying,

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthew 7:24-27)

Notice that the storm came and beat against both buildings. But the results were different, depending on the foundation.

No life is storm-free, but, with the right kind of foundation, it can be storm-proof.

The foundation is a huge deal—it’s not flashy and may even be invisible once the rest of the building is constructed, but a solid foundation is essential.

Focus on the Foundation, Not the Facade

Steve Murrell comments in his book WikiChurch that “many spiritual lives are built with more concern about the facade than the foundation.” In our effort to follow Jesus and help others follow him, it’s easy for us to obsess about the wrong things.

It’s easy to focus more on looking right than being right.

It’s About Jesus

If we’re not careful, we can become caught up in things that are far from central to the Christian faith. The foundation and starting point is the proper response to Jesus. It’s about Jesus, not just knowing about Jesus, but listening to his teaching, believing and actually obeying Jesus.

Jesus is Lord.

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

5 Benefits of the Fear of the Lord

You Can't Afford To Live Without It

Recently, I’ve been thinking about the Biblical emphasis on what’s called “the fear of the Lord.” In my interactions with students and young leaders, and in my general observations of contemporary culture, it’s not something I hear talked about very often these days. If it’s brought up at all (which it rarely ever is), it’s not really understood.

It’s easy to ignore it or disregard something when we think it doesn’t really matter. But, when we see it’s true value for us, we have a tendency to be more attentive. Here are five benefits of the fear of the Lord.

1. The Fear of the Lord is the Starting Point for Wisdom

Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…”

2. The Fear of the Lord is Better than Money

Proverbs 15:16 “Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil.”

3. The Fear of the Lord Helps Us to Avoid Evil

Proverbs 16:6 “Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the Lord evil is avoided.

4. The Fear of the Lord Can Help You Live Longer

Proverbs 10:27 The fear of the Lord adds length to life, but the years of the wicked are cut short.

5. The Fear of the Lord Leads to Contentment

Proverbs 19:23 “The fear of the Lord leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble.”

Why would’t you want to have a longer life, a more contented soul, or greater wisdom? Proverbs says that all of these things are linked to having the fear of the Lord.

The fear of the Lord is foundational. Popular contemporary ideas can tempt our souls to drift from time-tested Biblical truth, but this is to our peril.

The lie that having respect for God and his ways is going to hinder our fun is as old as humanity itself (see Genesis 3). It’s just not so. Respect for God (“the fear of the Lord”) and obedience to his commands is always a good idea. It leads to life.

Question: Which of these five benefits stands out most to you? Why? You can leave a comment by clicking here.