So you’re depressed? I don’t mean sad, down in the dumps, or tired. I mean the lead blanket is on top of you. The world is one big haze. The thought of even moving your body to a sitting position feels like it would take all the energy of the universe to accomplish. Depressed. You know that it’s hard to describe to someone who isn’t, and you probably have stopped even trying.
If you are a minister and you understand the last paragraph with painful clarity then keep reading. If you don’t then I am giving you permission to go ahead and close this window and go back to your life. There is nothing else for you in this post, and you and I should hang out more because I want to know your secret.
Still here? Ok then let’s chat for a moment. First off I’m not a dr. I don’t claim to be and I never will be one. I’m also not a counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist, or any other type of mental health professional in any sense of the word. All I am is a minister. I will point out though that I am a minister who in the past two years has seen four separate counselors, three psychiatrists, one psychologist, two general practitioners, the inside of a stripped out emergency room “holding facility” twice, and a few just really good guys who just flat-out wanted to help me; all because of depression.
I point all of that out to say, I get it. I also want to point out that I’m not “fixed” yet. In fact I’m getting to the point where I’m starting to realize that there is no fixing it. I will have good days, and I will have bad days for the rest of my life. There are pills that help, friends that can empathize, family members that suffer with me, and people who just don’t get it. In the end the bad days suck. There is no other way to put it. Anyone that tries to tell you that there will come a day where there are no bad days is either trying to sell you a prescription or is talking about heaven. You should nod and grin at one, and nod and grin at the other, both are just doing their job.
So here is my point. You’re a minister and you’re depressed.
You’re allowed to be.
For too long I lived my life thinking that you could only be one or the other. Some of that comes from what I was taught growing up by well-intentioned Bible teachers (i.e. real Christians don’t suffer from depression), and some of it comes from my own prideful need to have that nice glossy veneer that all the “successful” ministers seem to have. Maybe they are faking, maybe they are not; either way you be you. If you’re still with me you are either a family member or you are waiting for the take away so here it is plain and simple.
You can be an effective minister and suffer from depression.
I just wanted to remind you of that.
I wanted to remind you of that because this is what I know. You are under a lot of pressure from a lot of people to be a lot of things, and for most of those people depressed does not fit into the schedule. It’s messy, and it messes with calendars, programs, and potlucks. That’s ok you can still minister. In fact I’m going to take it one step further and then I’m going to let you go because you’re a busy guy or gal.
Sometimes your season of depression can make you an even more effective minister.
Don’t believe me? Next time someone is sitting in your office and begins to describe that black hole feeling in the pit of their stomach that they can’t seem to shake. The one that causes them to neglect their work, family, and home; look them straight in the eye and say, “me too.” Watch what happens. If that’s not ministry then I don’t know what is. In the mean time take your medication, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and all that other stuff they tell you to do to keep it under control. In the midst of all that though never forget you’re still a minister, and a really good one at that.