For Every Leader Who's Ever Struggled Through a Monday

Beat Monday Discouragement

It’s Monday.

Probably more than any other day of the week, leaders get discouraged on Mondays.

Your message didn’t quite elicit the response you hoped it would.

That one nasty email stole some much needed sleep last night.

You think you’re not making nearly the progress you hoped you would.

You wonder whether anyone actually appreciates what you’re doing.

That person who left also discouraged three other people on their way out the door.

I don’t know whether this is apocryphal or not, but it’s said more ministry leaders resign on a Monday than any other day. If you’ve been in ministry for any length of time, you’ll understand why.

A few weeks ago I caught a breathtakingly fresh glimpse of how I think God must feel when he sees the discouragement present in his people on days like Monday.

My wife Toni and I were on a hike in the woods.

I like to take pictures, and I was heading to a stream to take some shots of a small waterfall when I almost stepped on the flowers above.

They were incredibly small. They were barely visible from 6 feet up, but I caught them out of the corner of my eye.

I had to get down on my stomach to take this shot. I got as close as I could to snap the photo. (The picture makes them look so much bigger than they were, even without a macro lens.)

As I looked at them, it occurred to me that I might actually be the only human to ever see these flowers.

It made me think…

That doesn’t really matter to God.

He created them, and he absolutely delights in them. 

But my Protestant-work-ethic mind pushed against that — what purpose do they serve?

Sure they play a role in the eco-system, but you know what I mean. What good are they?

Then I realized I have something to learn from the flowers.

They were absolutely alive in the glory of God. They were simply being, not doing.

They exist for the praise of their Creator, and he delights in them.

Even if no one ever sees them.

Even if they never make a bridal bouquet.

Even if they never even got noticed.

You ever think God might feel the same way about you, even on your worst days?

Seeing the flowers radiating their glory for no one but their Maker challenged me:

Would you be content if no one ever noticed what you did?

Would you be satisfied if no one ever appreciated you?

Would you be good with no one ever acknowledging you?

Gulp.

So much of my life is spent trying to achieve, to become. To improve.

And most of my disappointment comes when I don’t do it fast enough, quickly enough or things don’t turn out the way I hoped.

Monday often brings all our shortcomings into focus for us, doesn’t it?

But that was the furthest thing on the mind of God when it comes to these flowers.

There they were, in their all their glory…fully alive whether anyone saw them or not.

Displaying their glory for an audience of One. 

Jesus said that we can learn from these flowers.

He saw that even the flowers amazed and delighted God.

And here’s a message for every leader on a Monday.

So do you.

You delight God just by being. 

You reflect the image of God.

He cherishes you.

He loved you before you accomplished anything, and in every moment you don’t.  

So today (just for one day), don’t try to prove anything.

He loves you.

And what leader doesn’t need to hear that?

Especially on a Monday.

21 Comments

  1. Scott Williamson on June 21, 2019 at 1:48 pm

    Being a pastor for 33 years, the last 22 of those as the lead pastor of the church that my grandfather started and that raised me, I confess that my “Mondays” usually start as soon as the Sunday morning duties are complete. I have been hounded by the hordes of hell and have always struggled with “my worth” to God. I pray for all of us that we can ‘become’ the truth you have shared. God loves “me” for “me”. Not because of my righteousness. So easy to affirm when Im not fighting the voices that tell me how big a failure I am. Thank you for the reminder….. lol even though I’m reading it 6 years after the fact!

  2. daddydab on December 14, 2013 at 10:58 am

    this applies to and can inspire all of GOD’s children concerning everyday of the week. thank you so much. I will indeed share this with others.

  3. 5 Unusual Ways Ministry Leaders Struggle with God on November 12, 2013 at 10:37 am

    […] confuse what you do with who you are in Christ. Need to hear that more clearly? I wrote this one for every leader who’s ever struggled through a Monday. He loves you. He just […]

  4. Joey O'Connor on May 21, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    This is a wonderful message Carey…it so reflects many of my own questions and struggles. It offers so much hope to me and the artists I work with at The Grove…we talk a lot about cultivating, abiding, and resting in the work of God. Thanks for your thoughtful, provocative words.

  5. Caleb on May 21, 2013 at 5:14 am

    I raid this page and found the most exciting articles. I would love to add Exiting with grace on my book tilted, developing a local congregation”. I hope permission will be granted. Caleb

    • cnieuwhof on May 21, 2013 at 6:37 am

      I don’t think I own that phrase at all Caleb. 🙂 I’ve heard others use it. I think it will make a great addition to your book.

  6. […] not. It also flairs when I get passed over for an opportunity in lieu of someone else.  I love Carey Nieuwhofs post (that really talks about discouragement but I think it applies to jealousy too) about how God […]

  7. Ira Bedenbaugh on May 9, 2013 at 7:11 am

    Thanks so much for the words on a Thursday.

  8. SherrySurratt on May 8, 2013 at 11:19 am

    Carey, what an incredible message to leaders! The question ‘would you be ok if no one ever noticed what you do?’ made me gulp too. The leader in me always wants to achieve and I always feel I’m letting others down when I don’t. But if I’m really honest, it’s more the disappointment of not getting the recognition or praise from others when I do achieve. Yucky pride and self centeredness.
    Thanks for your timely and piercing posts that are always so spot on. I’m praying for you today that God encourages your heart and fills you with his joy.

    • cnieuwhof on May 8, 2013 at 11:41 am

      Sherry. Your note leaves me feeling grateful. Thanks for your honesty and transparency. It’s amazing how we are all really alike inside, isn’t it? And even more amazing to know God’s love and redemption is steady and deep. Thank you!

  9. Craig Jutila on May 7, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    Love it! I actually took Monday off my calendar! Great post. Thanks Carey for the encouragement.

    • cnieuwhof on May 8, 2013 at 11:40 am

      Craig…you have applied this better than I have. Way to go. 🙂

  10. cnieuwhof on May 7, 2013 at 7:06 am

    Thanks for all the encouragement on this post. That’s what I love about our community. We’ve just all been there, haven’t we? Let’s keep encouraging one another. 🙂

  11. Kelli Wommack on May 7, 2013 at 7:05 am

    This is just what I needed to be reminded of, Carey. My friend and ministry colleague, Brent Dumler, sent this to me yesterday after hearing me voice doubts of ministry effectiveness a few weeks ago.
    My blog, Living for ONE, talks about living a life only for an audience for ONE, and yet, I still need to be reminded… often. God’s delight in me is simply because of my existence, not my effectiveness. Thank you!

  12. Kathy Nelson on May 7, 2013 at 12:11 am

    I truly needed this today – a Monday. Thank you. I will choose to be delighted in and loved for who I am at this moment by the only One who matters.

  13. Brent Dumler on May 6, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    I simply love your heart behind this post, Carey. Thank you for this encouragement. I hope that as others read this they will forward it on to someone they know in ministry as well.

  14. Shelly C on May 6, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    Thank you for this today.

  15. Chuck on May 6, 2013 at 10:47 am

    OUTSTANDING!!! That is all.

  16. Tanya on May 6, 2013 at 8:41 am

    Great, great msg! I wonder when God says to do things in secret like praying and good deeds (no clue right now where to find that in the bible) …that He not only wants to keep our egos in check but also allow us to bask in His delight alone?
    I also think of my new granddaughter. She is sleeping or just looking around..”being” …and I delight in her so much I think my heart will burst…imagine that God delights in us that way and so much more! Awesome.
    I’m going to carry your thoughts into my week..thx.

    • cnieuwhof on May 6, 2013 at 10:04 am

      Hi Tanya…thanks! Such a good point with your granddaughter. And the passage you’re looking for? Try Matthew 6. 🙂

  17. Angel on May 6, 2013 at 7:10 am

    Thank you for these words! Much needed today.

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