“Let your life be a stepping stone to Christ and not a stumbling block.” 1 Cor. 8:13 & 10:31

DEFEATING DISCOURAGEMENT

By Rick Warren

Discouragement is a disease unique to human beings: It's universal.  Everyone gets it.  It's reoccurring.  You can catch it more than once. It's highly contagious.  Hang around discouraged people - you'll be infected.

WHAT CAUSES DISCOURAGEMENT?

1. FATIGUE:  When you are physically or emotionally exhausted, you are a prime candidate to be infected with discouragement.  Your defenses are lowered and things can seem bleaker than they really are.  This often occurs when you are about half way through a major project -you're tired but you can't quit.

2. FRUSTRATIONS: When unfinished tasks pile up, it's natural to feel overwhelmed.  And when trivial matters or the unexpected interrupt you and prevent you from accomplishing what you really need to do, your frustration can easily produce discouragement.

3. FAILURES:Sometimes, your best-laid plans fall apart: the project collapses ... the deal falls through ... the order is canceled.  How do you react?  Do you give in to self-pity?  Do you blame others?  As one man said, “Just when I think I can make ends meet - somebody moves the ends!”  That's discouraging!

4. FEAR:  Fear is behind more discouragement than we'd like to admit.  The fear of criticism (What will they think?); the fear of responsibility (What if I can't handle this?); and the fear of failure (What if I blow It?) can cause a major onset of the blues.

WHAT'S THE CURE?

There's a fascinating story in the Bible about how a guy named Nehemiah mobilized the residents of Jerusalem to build a wall around the entire city.  Halfway through the project, the citizens became discouraged and wanted to give up - because of the four causes I've given.

Here's what Nehemiah told them to do to defeat their discouragement: (Nehemiah 4)

1. REST YOUR BODY!It you need to take a break - do so! You'll be far more effective when you return to your work.  If you're burning the candle at both ends - you're not as bright as you think.

2. REORGANIZE YOUR LIFE! Get this - It's an important distinction; discouragement doesn't necessarily mean you are doing the wrong thing.  It may just be that you are doing the right thing in the wrong way.  Try a new approach.  Shake things up a little.

3. REMEMBER GOD WILL HELP YOU!  Just ask Him.  He can give you new energy.  There is incredible motivating power in faith.

4. RESIST THE DISCOURAGEMENT!Fight back.  Discouragement is a choice.  If you are feeling discouraged it is because you have chosen to feel that way.  No one is forcing you to feel bad.  Hang on.  Be persistent.  Do what's right in spite of your feelings.  No feeling lasts forever.

Rick Warren is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life and The Purpose Driven Church, which was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th Century.

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