Tony Merida on Ministry Discouragement

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Editors’ note: 

For more reading on long-term faithfulness in ministry with practical wisdom from veteran pastors, see Faithful Endurance: The Joy of Shepherding People for a Lifetime from The Gospel Coalition.

Tony Merida gives pastors several reminders about the importance of pastors caring well for their body, soul, and relationships during times of discouragement.

Below is a lightly edited transcript of the video above. Before quoting, please check the video to ensure accuracy.

I think it’s important when seasons of discouragement come to a pastor to remember that you’re a human being and that’s normal. When you’re giving a lot of information and you’re a content producer, you can at times feel like you’re a machine, and people can even view you like that. They may come to see you as the person they get stuff from, rather than realizing that you’re actually someone made in the imago Dei. And you as a pastor need to start with that truth as well. What that means practically for me is that I need to take care of my whole self.

Caring for Your Body

So when I’m discouraged, things like exercise really do matter. I often say that exercise lifts me from discouragement more than anything. I don’t even know why that is, but we are complex beings. And I think if a guy is discouraged and he will go out to the garage and work really hard for about an hour and go take a cool down, walk, and pray, he might be surprised at how good that will be for him.

Exercise lifts me from discouragement more than anything.

Caring for Your Relationships

Because we’re made in the imago Dei we’re relational people, and so it’s very important that we have relationships. In seasons of discouragement, we can actually talk to other people about our discouragement. I talk with our other pastors, and an hour with them tends to be super beneficial for my own soul.

Caring for Your Soul

We’re spiritual beings because we’re made the imago Dei. So, my go-to in seasons of discouragement has been to memorize Psalms. Over the course of the last 15 years, I’ve memorized a bunch of Psalms. And I do that for my own soul; I don’t do that to show off or perform publicly. I just love to recite the Psalms, especially in the mornings. I’ll walk outside and begin to recite Psalm 145, Psalm 25, and Psalm 46. It’s important to remember that Jesus quotes the Psalms more than any other Old Testament book. He was saturated in the Psalms. This one who was the Man of Sorrows, who was acquainted with grief, lived and breathed the Psalter, the prayer book of the Bible. And so, for me, the Psalms have been a tremendous go-to for my own soul.

This one who was the Man of Sorrows, who was acquainted with grief, lived and breathed the Psalter, the prayer book of the Bible.

So, take care of your physical health, take care of your relational health, take care of your spiritual self.