Dealing with the “D” Word.

We don’t talk about it much.  But we all know that a life of ministry can be really hard at times and that it can have serious effects on us.  Right now I’m thinking of five great guys who are presently dealing with possible borderline clinical depression.  But they wouldn’t tell you that.  They know how to “do ministry.”  They know how to throw on the smile and turn the attention to others.  They really want to help others know Jesus better.  But deep inside, they hurt, possibly even to the level of their brain chemistry being affected.  Sometimes the answer is just some serious time off from literal 24/7 schedules.  Sometimes a temporary prescription of something like Zoloft or Paxil can clear things up.  At times they just need a half dozen or more visits with a Biblical counselor.  But whatever they do, they know they can’t quit because they know that deep inside this is the life God has called them to in the same way that Peter responded to Jesus in John 6:68, “Lord, to whom shall we go?”  This is the life of their calling and existence and they know they could not in good conscience do anything else.  So they press on.

Some of them deal with envy because they know they will never be asked to preach at big conventions or lead the biggest churches in the world.  They see other guys who seem to receive the breaks in life and the supposed “hand of God” on their ministries while they slave away with little perceived fruit in obscurity.  Some of them may simply be going through a mid-life crises and need to reevaluate their values.  Sometimes they just need a shift in ministry niche.  But whatever the cause; it really is an issue.  Elijah dealt with it.  John the Baptist probably dealt with it.  Luther wrestled with it and in the political arena Lincoln likewise had his struggles.  Maybe you do.  If so, please be willing to reach out to someone for help. After all, the Word does tell us to “encourage each other daily.” For those who seem to be experiencing a great “open door of opportunity” and exponential fruit; take some time today to reach out to brothers in the fight who feel like they’re getting the raw end of the deal.  Intellectually we know that’s not the case.  But maybe that is simply the way they feel.  Also, remember to meditate on scripture and even talk it back to yourself.  It seems like that is what David did when he mused, “Why are you so downcast oh my soul . . . put your hope in God.”  Why should we do this as ministers?  For others! When you think about it, we can’t really be on our best game when we are stumbling.  There are times we need to sit on the bench a bit to regain strength and focus.  Sometimes the best way we can build up the saints is for us to be “Healthy Pastors” ourselves.

Have you wrestled with depression?  Do you know someone who has or is?

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2 thoughts on “Dealing with the “D” Word.

  1. Eight years ago a true friend and colleague in ministry knocked at my door. He continued to knock until I relented and opened it. Standing on the other side of the screen door which I kept closed, he told me he didn’t know what I was going through, but that he loved me and would walk with it through me. I was clinically depressed from ministry. The previous night I had written a suicide note. Moments before he came I was preparing to take my life by vehicle.
    Had someone asked me if I were depressed, I’d have said NO! I didn’t know it. I had just convinced myself that I was harming others by being alive. When i saw Tim (6’6″–275lbs) standing at my door with tears running down his face, a darkness in me broke and the will to live returned. Depression is serious business in the ministry. If your brother shows signs of it, don’t wait for him to “figure it out”. He may not have that much time left.

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