Need Encouragement? 6 Invisible Things Church Leaders are Doing Really Well Right Now

Feel like you need some encouragement?

Doesn’t every leader right about now…?

Most of what’s come at you in the last year has been discouraging…criticism from every side, events that are completely out of your control, operating in anything but ideal conditions. It’s a long list if you think about it.

So, this short post is designed to do one thing: Encourage you.

I love the word encouragement.

As a young leader, I never knew what to do with encouragement. Discount it? Shrug it off? Live for it?

I think I did all of the above.

But, the longer I’ve led, the more I realize how valuable encouragement is.

Think about the etymology.

To encourage someone literally means to give courage to them. Encouragement derives from an old French word that means ‘to make strong’ or ‘hearten.’

So, in the hopes of encouraging you and your team, here are some rather invisible things you’re doing really well right now as you’re leading.

1. You Haven’t Quit

Some of the most important moments of leadership have come for me when, discouraged, someone pulls up alongside me, puts their hand on my shoulder, looks me in the eye and says, “Hang in there.”

When I’ve hung in there, I’ve never regretted it.

So, leader, you’re hanging in there. You’ve made it this far. You haven’t quit.

I’m not saying you can never quit. But here’s a good rule: Never quit on a bad day.

If you’re going to quit, quit on a good day.

Then, at least you have a level head, have thought about it, prayed about it and hopefully talked to some really wise friends.

You haven’t quit. And, that thing you’re developing, as a result, has a name. It’s called resilience.

2. You’re Learning to Lead in Constant Uncertainty

Remember predictability in leadership? You could look ahead six months and have a relatively clear idea what was going to happen.

That, of course, is completely gone.

You’ve had to lead through crisis and are still facing tremendous uncertainty ahead…uncertainty that’s likely to remain for a while longer, even after the pandemic ends.

In the midst of it, perhaps without even noticing it, you’re developing an agility you’ve never known before.

In uncertainty, agility is ability and flexibility is a superpower.

Hint: Agility is an incredible skill to keep honing in leadership. Agile leaders have done better than inflexible leaders for years. In a highly disrupted world, they’ll do even better.

3. You’re Navigating Deep Divisions and Forging Unity

Every leader I’ve talked to tells me how hard it’s been navigating the division, tribalization and polarization that’s happening among the people you lead.

Numerous pastors have told me they’ve had to break up public arguments among staff, board members and even prayer team members. Wow.

This too, I hope, will pass.

One of the tasks of leadership is to bring diverse groups together around a common mission and purpose.

The Gospel unites what politics and prejudice often divide. 

I’m guessing all the division is driving you deeper and deeper into the true mission of the church. That’s never a bad thing.

A divided nation needs a united church.

You’re leading toward that. Way to go.

4. You’re Bringing Hope

Hope is what people need right now, and hope is so hard to find.

Church leaders, you’re bringing it.

I know sometimes you look out on a Sunday and see 30% of the people who used to be in the room. Or, you can’t even get in a room with people, so you just look into the lens of a camera.

But, you’re bringing hope.

Every person who watches that video or stops on your post needs it.

Every person you see in those distanced chairs hungers for it.

And every person you’re trying to reach has no idea what they’re missing.

You’re bringing hope. Keep bringing it.

5. You’re Deepening Your Faith

You probably don’t even realize it, but your faith is growing.

That’s what crisis does. It forces you to stop relying on yourself and start trusting God at a much deeper level.

I know it’s hard.

But, it’s like deciding you’re going to train for a 5k.  At first, it’s painful, you end up walking 2km of your ‘run’ and you’re so sore you need to stretch five times later that day.

The next day hardly feels easier, and now you’re running sore and through shin splints, but it’s done.

Fast forward to six months later, and you’ve just set a personal best and the endorphins kick in halfway through. Yeah, you’re tired when you’re done. But you’re so much further ahead than you were six months earlier.

Your faith is growing.

Your trust is deepening.

And, your reliance on God is probably more profound than you realize.

Keep going.

6. You’re Learning New Skills

Every leader ends up in ruts…at least I do.

And right now, you’re learning new skills at a rate you may not have learned them in years.

Take online ministry for example. You probably feel out of your depth. You may be disappointed by the results.

But you’re doing a new thing.

That’s actually rewiring your brain and making you stronger. Cognitive and social engagement have even been shown to protect against cognitive decline as you age.

Whether you continue to do everything you’re doing now or not, you’re growing, stretching and learning.

That has long term benefits no matter what’s ahead.

Keep Going (Share and Leave a Comment)

So, keep going.

If you need some more reasons not to quit, here are some more.

If you want to encourage someone, share this post on social or with your team.

And, leave a comment about how you’re growing and what you think you and your team are doing well right now.

Let’s encourage each other.

Feel like you need some encouragement? Here are 6 invisible things church leaders are doing really well right now, even in a pandemic.


  1. Joshua Scherer on January 25, 2021 at 5:02 pm

    Thanks Carey, needed this one today. Its incredible how quickly we adapt and what was once new, becomes part of the background radiation of leadership. I for one, had forgotten how many new skills I’ve developed this year compared to the 5 years prior. Thankyou to you and the team for the reminder, and the encouragement!

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 26, 2021 at 1:38 pm

      So glad to help!

  2. Todd Groat on January 25, 2021 at 3:53 pm

    Thank you!

  3. Ed on January 25, 2021 at 2:16 pm

    Just in time. Thank you.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 25, 2021 at 3:34 pm


  4. Mike Spinelli on January 25, 2021 at 12:59 pm

    Thank you, Carey,

    This is a welcome word that boosted my spirit. While it has not been a serious consideration, there have been moments that quitting seemed like a great alternative to navigating the divisions or trying to lead through the uncertainty. Thanks for affirming our perseverance as pastors and leaders.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 25, 2021 at 1:33 pm

      Thanks Mike!

  5. Rick on January 25, 2021 at 11:32 am

    So encouraging! Thank you. We are constantly told how we aren’t getting anything right. So refreshing to see some things we are doing well. Great timing

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 25, 2021 at 1:33 pm

      Stay encouraged Rick!

  6. Stevenson Pastorbill on January 25, 2021 at 11:17 am

    Carey, between your podcasts and your articles like this, you have been a great support tool over the last 10 months. Thank you

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 25, 2021 at 11:24 am

      So glad to hear that Stevenson. That’s what we’re trying to be.

  7. Paul Spittka on January 25, 2021 at 10:26 am

    Thank you! I needed this more than you know!

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 25, 2021 at 10:32 am

      With you Paul!

  8. clay hopkins on January 25, 2021 at 9:54 am

    Thanks for the encouragement and I plan to pay it forward with our staff today!

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 25, 2021 at 10:32 am

      I hope it lifts their spirits Clay.

  9. Rita Bullock on January 25, 2021 at 9:19 am

    I needed this encouragement today! Thank you, Carey.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 25, 2021 at 9:21 am

      Glad it helped Rita!

  10. Kevin on January 25, 2021 at 9:08 am

    Good stuff Carey. I plan to share this with my staff. Though they arent taking quite the heat I am, they’re navigating all these waters as well, and need the encouragement. I did too. So thank you.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 25, 2021 at 9:20 am

      So glad to hear it Kevin. 🙂

  11. Juno Smalley on January 25, 2021 at 8:46 am

    Is there a way to just get the ‘preaching to the camera’ chapter/video. I previously purchased the Art of Better Preaching?

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 25, 2021 at 9:20 am

      Hey Juno…that should be included! Our customer support team will be reaching out to you. Definitely want you to have it. 🙂

  12. Judi Sifferd on January 25, 2021 at 7:13 am

    Encouraging words. Thank you!

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 25, 2021 at 7:50 am

      Glad it helped Judi!

  13. Judi Sifferd on January 25, 2021 at 7:12 am

    Encouraging words! Thank you!

  14. Ron on January 25, 2021 at 5:50 am

    Two words, Carey: Thank You! Your encouragement means a lot.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 25, 2021 at 6:21 am

      Hang in there Ron!

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