Preaching Articles

Preachers get discouraged.  This post is not intended to offer any solutions, but sometimes identifying the issue or issues can be a start to addressing the challenge.  Perhaps this list can also help you pray for other preachers, or pastors in your church.

Here are some reasons preachers get discouraged:

1. Lack of fruit – Almost every preacher will receive comments of gratitude after preaching, but most will realize this politeness is not the same as genuine fruit from their preaching.  A lack of new life or tangible growth can really get a preacher down.  A lot of time and emotional energy can be invested over the long haul with very little tangible return on investment.

2. Loneliness* – Preaching can be a strangely lonely ministry.  It is easy to prepare in private and then process the post-preaching feelings in private. It can also feel lonely to be aware of the next two items...

3. Criticism – After preaching it is a strange feeling to know that a lot of people will be enjoying “roast preacher” for their Sunday lunch.  Unless we have a big ego, most preachers don’t really want to be the subject of conversation.  We try to make Christ the subject of conversation, but we aren’t naive to the conversations that go on!  And then what if the criticism is coming in from outside of our context?  That will only add to the pressure.

4. Expectation – Preachers are not a different class of Christian.  We struggle.  We don’t have it all together.  We can even say so in our preaching, and yet people still expect preachers to be “victorious” Christians.  Therefore when we are struggling with temptation, with tiredness, with family life, with financial pressures, with personal and spiritual dry times, we feel the expectation that we won’t struggle and so tend to keep the struggle hidden.  This circles us back up to number 2 again – loneliness.

5. Family Life – Preachers have real families.  Our children fight and sin.  Our marriages go through downs as well as ups.  Churches tend to place expectations on spouses and children of preachers.  Spouses of preachers tend to put expectations on themselves.  The complexity of church life can take a massive toll on families, and even when preachers try to put family first, there will still be times when we question whether the ministry we do is worth it.

6. Lack of sleep / health – A cycle of not sleeping properly will really take the energy and joy out of life.  This could be due to stress, to pastoral pressures, to family needs, to health challenges, etc.  Whatever the reason, when our tanks are empty then life will feel tough.

7. Depression – Preachers can get depressed too.  For those of us who don’t struggle with this, it can be impossible to understand those that do.  But they do.  Famous preachers have struggled with extreme depression.  And preachers do burn out.  It is never a pretty sight.  And this is where we should all be aware – burnout can be avoided.

That is a starter list of seven reasons preachers get discouraged.  What would you add?

* Preparing and processing your preaching in private can lead to even MORE isolation.

That's why over 1,000 preachers participate in the SermonCentral PRO community on Facebook.

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Peter Mead is involved in the leadership team of a church plant in the UK. He serves as director of Cor Deo—an innovative mentored ministry training program—and has a wider ministry preaching and training preachers. He also blogs often at and recently authored Pleased to Dwell: A Biblical Introduction to the Incarnation (Christian Focus, 2014). Follow him on Twitter

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David Jennys

commented on Aug 31, 2015

You are using the wrong word, Peter. Your article title should have been "7 Danger Signs Of A Discouraged Pastor." As a pastor, I perform a large number of tasks, duties and responsibilities - among them preaching. I am a "preacher," yes; as a pastor, I regularly preach. But preaching is only a part of my calling as a pastor. I occasionally get discouraged in my pastoral role and those danger signs you identified are good indicators, but usually only get discouraged in my preaching, when I feel like I didn't deliver the sermon in the best way that I am capable.

Steve Sewell

commented on Aug 31, 2015

This is definitely a good read for a Monday for us pastors. Thank you. My sense is that on any typical day, pastors, preachers, and lead teachers feels these painful challenges and could very easily derail a called, chosen, and creative soul. It would be wise for us to take our own inventory of these crisis entry points and put into practice a safe place for transparency with a small group of others.

Dr. Lewis W. Gregory

commented on Sep 1, 2015

Exactly, but so often Monday becomes the time for the so called "Monday blues." TGIM is a weekly Monday word of encouragement to help offset such depressing feelings. It is important to set the tone for the week. Thank God It's Monday is simply a reminder to keep focused on the Lord and His enabling presence and power. How else can we fight the good fight of faith?

Lucky Ekentason

commented on Sep 1, 2015

Moreso when those hips of preachings are not changing the people. Definitely any preacher would be discouraged. Hence discouragement should be added to the list. A preacher often get disenchanted, disillusioned and discouraged when he turns up on a Sunday morning service and sees only a few family turned up for the worship; after spending almost the whole week praying and preparing what he thought was a powerful message for so and so family and for a more larger congregation. But in all these the Lord encourages His pastors and preachers. That makes the difference.,

Mark Hadfield

commented on Sep 1, 2015

Right on, Peter! Thanking you! Most encouraging article too, cheers; very nicely written insofar that it identifies an issue, or variable, and then accordingly invites the reader/s to solve that particular happenstance about their good selves! 'A problem well stated is a problem half solved'. Way cool. Anyway, kind Sir, upon reflection, could we not add, say, fear of rejection, inadequacy and jealousy to the current list being to round it out to an even ten? All the while, my Chambers' states :discourage, to take away the courage of : to dishearten : to seek to check by showing disfavour to / discouragement .. dejection. Fr. descourager. Says 02:16 Thess - Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with you. Again, thanking you, Peter.

Dr. Lewis W. Gregory

commented on Sep 1, 2015

Yes, discouragement is very real and over time can lead to burnout for anyone, including pastors. Which is why I shared a series on "Burnout" at the World Missions conference at First Baptist Church Atlanta, Georgia in 2013. What happens when you grow weary and faint? What do you do when you become so discouraged and depressed that you do not think you can go on anymore. If you find yourself running on fumes you might just be experiencing burnout. But praise God there is a real and lasting solution through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Simone Whatley

commented on Sep 2, 2015

The top of my list is loneliness. This is caused by not creating a safe place to expound on my challenging issues. I have friends however my friends turn to me for spiritual guidance and advice so who do I turn to? I turn to God in hopes God will surround me with colleagues in ministry trust worthy so we can share our difficult issues. I believe once we begin talking about the problems it helps alleviate the issues from our hearts and our minds and as a result we may solve our own solution or help some else with theirs.

Ayinla Samuel Ayodele

commented on Sep 3, 2015

Be an encourager today!


commented on Sep 20, 2015

Sin. My experience has revealed that I am deeply discouraged when my walk is inconsistent with His Word. Preachers do fall, and unfortunately because of some of the areas mentioned above we stay down too long, thus adding to this vicious cycle of discouragement and defeat.

Andy Collins

commented on Jun 4, 2019

That first one is huge. When I go to preach a sermon and am aware of inter-personal dynamics in my church community, I often say a silent prayer that the Holy Spirit would convict so-and-so through my words, knowing that what I've prepared really speaks into their issues. Yet, it's as if they weren't listening, or if they were, then they've hardened their hearts to the Holy Spirit's gentle nudges.

Dale Carter Sr.

commented on Jun 8, 2019

Good article Bro. Peter. I agree with Brother Collins about convicting a brother or sister so-and-so. It's almost comical to hear the vigorous Amen and hand lifted when you know you hit that one right between the eyes. The sad part is that there never is a change of actions. Cheerleaders are a very powerful part of a sermon, during and after.

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