If Satan can’t get you one way, he’ll try another. If lust, greed, or pride don’t cause you to fail, something we don’t talk about as much may become your undoing. Disappointment can sap your energy, cloud your vision, or even turn you away from your mission.

And if we’re honest, we’ll admit every leader deals with disappointment. I’ve grouped mine under three headings.

Disappointment With People

When I became a lead pastor, Drew Sherman told me, “This job will change you, and it will not be in ways you will like. You will become less trusting and more guarded.”

I didn’t fully understand him then, but today I do. Early on as a lead pastor I had trusted a church member with intimate details of my life and then seen him share with others what I’d given him in confidence. It happened after he began to disagree with leadership initiatives I was taking with the church.

Now I’m more guarded. My trust circle is smaller. I don’t give the benefit of the doubt as widely as I did before. I’ve been burned by disappointment.

Disappointment With the Church

I can cope when someone criticizes me, but nothing disappoints me more than seeing church members hurt and bite each other. Nothing breaks my heart faster than watching the church shoot its own. There is so much backbiting in the world already, the last thing the church needs to do is destroy each other. It has to be disappointing to the world when they expect us to be the place of grace and love and we cannot even treat each other well. 

I still believe the church is the hope of the world, but we can’t bring hope to the world if we are bringing hell to each other. When that happens, I’m disappointed.

Disappointment With God

I can’t count the number of times I’ve fervently prayed for something but never heard an answer from God. And I can’t count how often I’ve prayed with passion about a problem only to see God solve it in a way I didn’t want.

Last year when my dad was diagnosed with cancer, I prayed that God would rid him of the disease with no need for follow-up chemotherapy. Today my dad is cancer free, but only after undergoing the chemo I was dreading. I prayed the treatment would leave no side effects, but today Dad has neuropathy in his hands and feet.

My dad is showing me what it means to live for God when God doesn’t do what we want. His example lessens my disappointment—a little.

Meanwhile I’m learning that my disappointment with God does not make him disappointed with me. He can handle my disappointment.

But while we may expect disappointment, we can’t live there. Here are three ways to derail disappointment.



1. Keep loving people.

Even though my circle of trust has become smaller, my love for people has grown wider. God did not call me to judge; he called me to love. If Jesus loved to the point of death for humanity, I must figure out how to keep loving people too.

2. Keep serving the church.

The church remains as the bride of Christ, and I’ve committed to love the church “for better and for worse, in sickness and in health” for all of my life. God created the church to be the hope of the world, and when I serve the church, he rekindles that hope within me.

When I minister to the church with passion and joy, two changes take place. Those I serve see something different in the church. And I see something different in them.

3. Keep remembering you are not God.

Every human being—and certainly every leader—must regularly remember who’s really in control. Nothing frees me from disappointment with God more than reminding myself again that he is in charge and I am not. There are some things I’m just not meant to know or understand, but I must trust that God has my best interests at heart.

If I feel compelled to explain everything God does or doesn’t do, I’ll always slip into disappointment. Author, speaker, and lawyer Bob Goff says God has not called him to represent him but to follow him. When I keep following God, I see him at work, and disappointment gets derailed.

What are your greatest disappointments? How has God helped you derail them?