Five Things To Do In A Season Of Stuck

Many ministry leaders find themselves feeling stuck. This post is not about getting unstuck. Our friends at the Unstuck Group can help with that. It’s not about overcoming your issues and getting going again.

This is a post about what to do when you don’t know what to do. You’ve tried everything and nothing seems to be working. And you feel you’re not going anywhere. It’s about what to do while you’re in the season of stuck.

I’ve been there. In ministry. In life. In relationships. Being stuck is not uncommon. But it doesn’t mean you can’t do anything positive. Here are five helpful things you can do during a season of stuck.

Many pastors and church leaders are Type-A personalities, always needing to do something. We must realize that rest is not doing nothing. It’s an intentional action that’s crucial for refueling.

In his book Leading on Empty, Pastor Wayne Cordeiro warns that when a body is depleted of serotonin “your system has to recharge, but it takes a trickle charge, one that restores you with a sustained low-amperage…The only way to finish strong will be to first replenish your system. If you don’t prepare for a crash.”

I recently heard a podcast by Pastor Andy Stanley on “4 Questions to Ask When You Don’t Know What To Do.” His point was to ask yourself critical questions to help understand where you are and how you got there. You can use his or come up with your own, but the questions you ask typically won’t have easy answers. And it’s important to be really honest and use this season to reflect on God, yourself and your circumstance. Determine if God is trying to tell you something, and if so, what is it.

My laptop computer is pretty old. It often gets stuck and locks up leaving me frustrated and not knowing what to do. I eventually try CONTROL, ALT, DELETE. If that doesn’t help, I just reboot it. I turn it off and start all over from the beginning.

Once my laptop reboots, I typically get one of three outcomes. Sometimes nothing changes and I’m still stuck. Other times a message appears telling me what to do next. This is helpful. But sometimes the rebooting process actually fixes the issue. This is awesome.

Sometimes life calls for a reboot. If you are in a reboot phase of life, you may need to be open to God doing something completely new. This process will probably take longer than you think it will, as it does with my laptop. But rebooting may fix the problem or show you what steps to take next.  

Take this time to get better at whatever. There are lots of areas in life and ministry to improve. Whether it’s something directly related to your season of stuck or something completely different, take this time to refine your rough edges. Read the Bible more. Listen to more podcasts. Have more conversations with seasoned advisers and wise friends. Do the hard work of getting better.

In the book, Secrets of the Vine, author Bruce Wilkinson examines Jesus’ parable of the vine and the branches. He talks about the importance of pruning, in gardening and in life. Pruning is different than cutting off. Jesus said the gardener cuts off branches that don’t bear fruit. But pruning is cutting away areas that hinder growth. Although they feel the same (both are painful), pruning is a refining process that makes us more fruitful.

I really tried to find an “R” word here, but just couldn’t. Keep watching and don’t give up! Realize that while you’re stuck you can still watch for opportunities, for movement. Watching is the key difference between being hopeless and being hopeful. When you’re hopeless, you don’t even bother to watch. By contrast, you only watch for opportunities when you have hope.

So watch for what God is doing. Watch for opportunities, even if they aren’t directly related to getting you unstuck. Remember, God may be leading you in a different direction. So always keep your eyes open and your heart ready to receive from God what’s next for you.