|Noun||1.||defeated – people who are defeated; “the Romans had no pity for the defeated”|
|Adj.||1.||defeated – beaten or overcome; not victorious; “the defeated enemy”|
|2.||defeated – disappointingly unsuccessful; “disappointed expectations and thwarted ambitions”
It doesn’t take much listening to preachers of today to hear said time and again we are to live “victorious” lives. The bit of truth to that concept is that we, through Christ, are given the victory over bondage to sin and to death. And we are to live lives that reflect that victory (another illustration of the light we are not to cover with a bushel basket).
But sadly, life is filled with defeats – As the definition above from Farlex’s Free Dictionary reminds us – the term “defeated” can be both a noun and an adjective. It can also be an emotion.
I can honestly say that I have very rarely doubted, and never seriously doubted, my call to ministry. I can say without fear of contradiction that I have longed for another calling. Why? mostly because of the emotion (and sometimes literal) defeat I have felt. Some is the result of what I can label as nothing less than pride, while at other times, the defeated feelings have come when, despite my best effort, most sincere prayers, and best of intentions, I have failed (at least in my own eyes).
How many people have I shared, or tried to share, the Gospel of Jesus Christ with, who have continued on without any sign of trusting the message? While I realize it is not Michael they are rejecting, but Jesus Christ – it is hard to hold on to that when the experience is so regular.
Or when I feel defeated because I find that I have not been dealt with honestly.
Or when I realize that I have genuinely failed – as a pastor, husband, or father (even if in but a relatively small way).
I feel defeated when I allow doubts to creep in.
I feel defeated when I allow emotions to overrule faith and what I know to be true.
I feel defeated when I believe I have “done it right, but see no results”.
Is it unreasonable to feel defeated as a pastor, when you see little or no growth in the ministry? Is it unfair to characterize myself as having failed when the church I am serving in finds itself approaching the uncomfortable position of not being able to pay my salary?
Have I not defeated myself when I have led my family to rely upon a certain income level, to not be set up for family defeat with the prospects of a major salary cut and the need to find secular employment (I have absolutely nothing against bi-vocational ministry, but I also recognize the costs and special challenges involved – the subject of a whole other discussion to soon follow).
Is it wrong to feel defeated when it seems you are spinning your proverbial wheels, but getting little traction?
Is it improper to feel defeated when members your own flock are afraid or unwilling to share their issues with you, preferring to remain silent and allowing interpersonal troubles with others to fester and grow?
Is it out of line to feel defeat when you pour your heart and soul into trying to help, guide, and direct people to make better decisions – God-glorifying decisions, only to see them repeatedly reject or throw away those efforts?
Satan loves for the followers of Christ to feel defeated. In part because he knows that we are not ultimately and eternally defeated – so his only means of discouraging us, of derailing our ministry (whether vocational ministry or layman ministry) is by pushing us to live defeated lives.
The sad truth is – it is easy in the building up of my own little pity-party of defeat, that the joy of salvation grows dim. Its at times like this that I just have to cling to such passages as what King David wrote in Psalm 51:9-12
Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit…
Or – as set to music by Mac Powell:
To my readers – I ask for your prayers as my family must address the realities set before us and seek God’s plan and provision. I pray for peace and for the restoration of my heart and soul. I pray for genuine progress in ministry. I pray for clarity, vision, and strength.
2 thoughts on “Defeated”
I don't think that it is ever wrong to feel defeated, so long as we don't allow that discouragement to convince us to give up. Only in giving up, are we truly defeated. At least, in my opinion. Maybe out of context, but Galatians 6:9 comes to mind. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. And 2 Chronicles 15:7 But you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded. If you haven't heard Voice of Truth by Casting Crowns before, I highly suggest it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VaVg0cWkgAw&list=PLB91Pe4r9yYGfQXbZ86Fqh7lRnPR8L2sR&index=31 That one always speaks to me when I'm feeling doubts and defeated. I hope it speaks to you too. I'll be praying for our church and that God's will be done. Take heart and God be with you!
Good reply, Julieann! I am very familiar with that Casting Crowns song – it is a real encouragement (and is a lot of their music!)Oh how discouraged the Apostles must have often felt! But even public beatings, imprisonment, and much more never stopped them.Scripture says to “run the race” – it didn't say it would be easy.Thanks again for the comment!