Ministry can be a discouraging journey. We encounter people that are experiencing overwhelming circumstances and sometimes we aren’t even sure how to help them. Those moments, however, are countered by countless testimonies of lives transformed. It’s one of the most difficult things a person can dedicate their lives to, but it is also one of the most fulfilling.
Unfortunately, there are many ministers today that are walking this journey with depression and discouragement. I understand there are medical causes to depression and I’m not talking about these. But I’m talking about pastors that have become so overwhelmed by their circumstances that they’ve lost their joy.
In Nehemiah 8, we are told that the ‘joy of the Lord is our strength’. If that’s true, why have some reports stated that up to 80% of pastors battle with depression? If we are to be strong as ministers, I would say we have to find our joy in the tough moments. That joy might not be found in our circumstances, but it must be found in our Savior. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit – it is not a natural overflow of our heart, but rather a supernatural overflow of the presence of God.
If you’re in that place of discouragement or depression, let me give you a few quick thoughts:
- Get alone with God for a significant time and really allow His Spirit to rejuvenate you. That might mean taking a prayer retreat with just you and your Bible. That might mean just taking a day to pray. However or whenever you take this time, just do it.
- Don’t go through this time alone. Find at least one close friend or potentially a counselor that you can talk things through with. Make sure this a person that you trust and has a positive outlook.
- Just know that your current state is not God’s final destination for you. Be faithful and as God challenged the Israelites in Jeremiah 29, ‘make the most of your circumstances’. Strive to keep a positive outlook – even in the worst circumstances, there is always some positive you can pull from it.
If you are looking for professional help in dealing with depression, I would highly recommend Emerge Ministries out of Akron, OH.
You can read an insightful article on two pastors that battled with depression here.