We have come to a very important leadership intersection in life. As a fellow-servant, there have been times when I have personally experienced all the lessons I have been sharing with you. I am teaching out of the empathic overflow of my own life.
There are least four main causes of discouragement. The first two are fatigue and frustration, and they often attack in tandem. That’s when we feel worn out and weighted down at the same time. It is when we have come to the halfway point and feel as though we might not make it to the finish line.
The last two major causes of discouragement are fear and failure.
Fear: We Can Be Wrought Up (Neh. 4:11)
We can be worn out-that’s fatigue; we can be weighted down-that’s frustration. Then, on the heels of these two, we can become wrought up. Nehemiah wrote, “And our adversaries said, They shall not know, neither see, till we come in the midst among them, and slay them, and cause the work to cease.”
Now Nehemiah and his team were in actual physical danger. As a result of this, they were emotionally worked up and fearful.
If you feel as if you’re getting a lot of negative stuff coming at you at the same time, it just may be that you’re over the target. Satan will come against you. Jesus said in John 15:20: “Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his Lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” If you’re not being persecuted, I wonder, why not?
Satan is a clever, masterful deceiver. He knows when you’re worn out and when you’re weighted down. It’s at that time that he comes to get you wrought up as well. It’s at that time that he makes all kinds of threats against you. When the problems of fatigue, frustration, and fear begin to come together, you can become discouraged.
Failure: We Can Be Written Off (Neh. 4:11-12)
There is one other cause of discouragement that we see in Nehemiah’s story. Not only were the people worn out-that’s fatigue; not only were they weighted down-that’s frustration; and not only were they wrought up-that’s fear; but they were written off-that’s failure.
In Neh. 4:11-12, we read, “And our adversaries said, They shall not know. . . And it came to pass, that when the Jews which dwelt by them came, they said unto us ten times, From all places whence ye shall return unto us they will be upon you.”
It is terrible enough when your enemies say it can’t be done; but when your friends say it can’t be done, that’s ten times worse! Ten times their teammates-those who were supposed to be on their side-said, “You can’t do it.” They said it over and over and over again: “You are a failure, Nehemiah. You will never get it done.” If your closest friends are making you feel like a failure, even though you know, without a doubt, that you have heard from God, then make the decision today to get some new faith-filled friends!
Over the years in ministry, there have been-and still are-naysayers on one side and many yea-sayers on the other side. It has been a constant tug-of-war. I have watched people come with their own hidden agendas, disguised in different fashions. Yet, one by one they come, and one by one they leave. I remember, as if it were yesterday, a particular person applauding the effort in front of others in a meeting, only to tell me privately by phone that he was against this global vision. He went as far as to threaten me and oppose me.
On another occasion, I witnessed a well-known person raising money for his organization in the Green Room at our Billion Soul event. I was so disappointed when I saw this person do this! I watched pastors and leaders make financial-pledge commitments in front of each other so as to not be outdone by someone else. Then, when they left for home, they never did send one dollar of their commitment to us.
I remember the night in December 2006, lying on the floor in an Orlando condominium we were leasing, my face in the carpet,broken, lonely, and fearful, asking the Lord what He wanted me to do with the vision He had placed into my mind and heart. It was in the middle of the darkness of that awful night that the Lord gave me a plan of execution. When I gained enough strength to rise to my feet, I decided by faith that I would walk this vision out day by day until it came to pass in my generation.
It is in moments like this that fatigue, frustration, fear, and failure will swirl around us, telling us to quit and go do something else. Sooner or later, every visionary leader will face this midnight hour of the soul. If no one has ever fought against you, then your vision is probably not worth fighting for!
In the time when the four horsemen of discouragement want to undermine your confidence in who you are and whose you are, take a pen and a sheet of paper and become more focused than you have ever been in your life. In my dark hour, I “faith-tuned” a list of ten steps to global networking success. After I wrote them down, I continued to pray over them and rearranged several of them. Once I knew exactly the sequence of the steps to take, I got up every day knowing exactly what to do. It did not matter what others did or did not do or what others said or did not say. I stayed on the steps before me.
You may know exactly how long each of the steps may take; but at the end of the day, it is the compass that matters more than the clock! I did not know exactly how long each step would take, but I knew that with the Lord’s insight and the Holy Spirit’s strength, each step would be accomplished, and network momentum would move us forward for years to come.
I am not implying that we no longer face challenges; rather, we continue to do so as we navigate our way through the diverse international landscape before us. I sense we have come to the halfway point in this network, and I am praying for the second wind to take us to the finish line. When we talk about the “finish line,” we are believing for the Great Commission to be completed by 2030.
Are you at the halfway point in your life and ministry? Are the four horsemen of discouragement coming against you? If so, get alone with the Lord, ask Him to set your compass, pull faith-filled friends close to you, and trust the Holy Spirit for your second wind.