Summary: Why we get discourages and how to solve it. It has a lot to do with how wee deal with people.
“Discouragement: the Cause and the Cure”
When my wife and I set out for seminary we moved to New Orleans. Seminary was placed there in 1917 now a century-old started they are because of the great need to spread the gospel in that area. We were both pleasantly surprised to find that the campus was one of the most peaceful places we had been to. 2000 students there … but like a large family …. There was a park for parents to take their kids and you could feed the squirrels and they would come right up and eat of your hand. It always felt safe. A number of the students did not even lock their doors at night. But one of the professors there later commented if you plan to study at the this seminary or any other one, there is one thing you need to know and that is is that when you leave here Satan will be chasing you right out those gates and will do so for the rest of your ministry. It will be as though you have a target on you back because Satan knows this … if you can discourage the pastor, you can discourage his congregation … if you can discourage a leader; you can discourage those who follow that leader.
When you sign up for leadership you sign-up for two things (1) the greatest joy you will ever experience and (2) the greatest opposition you will ever experience. Dr. Charles Stanley, pastor of the FBC of Atlanta – when he became pastor of that church there was opposition. One man came up on the platform while he was preaching one week and actually slugged Dr. Stanley right in the face and knocked him down.
When you sign up to lead, when you sign up to make a difference you WILL face opposition. Every leader knows this and most of us have learned it the hard way. And that is exactly what happened with Nehemiah. He had no idea just how complicated life could get. Look what happens.
Chapter 4:1-3. Remember I said last week that these two guys, Sanballat and Tobiah --- they seemed to work everywhere. There always seems to be a few people who will try to discourage you and stop any forward progress you are hoping to make.
Look close at what they did.
1. They mocked them. And not only did they mock them – but they did it publicly. His colleagues were there – his coworkers. Also some of the most powerful men in the area were present. The larger the number of people present, the greater the opportunity for humiliation.
2. They used criticism. “Will they ever finish this?”
3. They used sarcasm. Can they even do this by themselves? Look at their materials. They think they can use this ole of rubble.
4. They used humor. They made fun of them. “Even if a fox climbs up on the wall, the wall will fall down.”
In our day we might refer to this as being bullied. Discouragement comes in a variety of ways. I have found that basically there are 4 causes of discouragement … see if you agree.
1. Fatigue. When you are physically or emotionally exhausted you are a prime candidate for discouragement.
2. Frustration. It happens that according to v. 6 they were halfway through with the project and that can be a time when discouragement can set in. Are we ever going to finish? We can become overwhelmed.
3. Failure. For you what happens when a project falls apart? Is it “poor old me?” Do you start blaming other people?
4. Fear. Fear of criticism/what others think …. What will people think? What will they say? Fear of responsibility. What if I can’t handle this?
Listen. I don’t know of anything that will take the wind out of your sails as quickly as discouragement. Now, Nehemiah is making progress. V. 6 reminds us that they are half way through with the project. And this really makes the opposition angry. More angry. Look at v. 7. They became furious. Well I have already said they were being critical, making fun, bullying the workers – that hasn’t stopped so now it’s time to try something new. Look now at v. 8.
Let’s call a meeting. Which is usually NOT the answer. Bet let’ get everyone who is opposed to this together – we will call it the cold water committee and they ALWAYS seem to be available. They have a bucket and hose and they’re always ready to pour cold water on a good idea. A closer look at v. 12 shows how this committee works,
• It came from those who lived nearby. I don’t know about you but if criticism comes from someone who lives a thousand miles away – I can usually deal with it. I can overcome that. But when it comes from someone close to me – it hurts. A friend who turns on you. It’s hard. On occasions someone will come to me and they will say Pastor I have heard a number of people saying … and then they express their concern. What I have found is that usually the number is one and it’s them. They just don’t have the nerve to tell you so they say it’s coming from other people.