What is depression
Spiritual depression has everything to do with where a person is in their spiritual journey. Many times, a spiritual depression leads to doubts about God and His faithfulness. This kind of depression is often dealt with by a heavy prescription of prayer and fasting along with time spent in scripture.
Mental depression on the other hand, is of a physical nature. There are many different causes of mental illnesses and emotional instability. Some are side effects of other illnesses or medications. Sometimes there can be some chemical imbalance. It is even a possibility that some of those can be hereditary. Regardless of the source, many times the answer to mental depression is medication which is prescribed by a Family Medical Doctor or Psychiatrist.
I want to talk about the mental depression and its effects on the Preacher.
Depression has the same effects on the preacher as it does on any other person. The struggle to get motivated. The low self-esteem. The frustration of wanting to be productive but just cannot force it to happen. All the negative thoughts and feelings are there. All of this creates somewhat of a spiritual battle within the heart of the preacher. The pressure the expectations, on and on week after week, day after day.
There are felt expectations from the congregation and others in the community that add-on pressure. Some of those expectations are there and some are simply by products of the depression. Many church goers and community members look at the preacher and hold him to a standard. In some ways that standard is appropriate and other ways it is way too much of an expectation. It is true, preachers need to practice what they preach. It is also true that preachers are just men.
Oh, and let us not forget about the expectations from God. Yes, we all have expectations from God. If we truly believe what we say we believe then we should be living according to it. However, this creates a major problem in the mind and heart of a preacher who is dealing with depression, especially if there is a need to take medication. He will begin to question if he trusts God and at the same time remind himself that the medication is God’s answer to his prayer for relief. The battle in his mind and heart continues to go back and forth like some never-ending game of tug-o-war. Soon, the expectations that God has for the preacher seem overwhelming.
Ultimately these things are thrown in to the slow cooker known as his life. These variables mingling together battling for position in the heart of the preacher. He then begins to feel discouragement and failure at times and other times is praising God for giving him the strength to overcome and succeed each day. Sermon after sermon written and preached, all a product of the battle in the darkness. The battle between his faith and defeat. All the while doing his best to serve God and the people to which he has been given charge to care for spiritually.
Preachers are simply human beings assigned by God to a task
It is true that preachers and church leaders are held to a higher expectation by God and even the people in the church as well as the community. However, that in no way means that the preacher is better than anyone else or somehow should be more spiritual than anyone else. The fact is simply this; the man who is preaching in your church is no more than a man. A human being. That man has emotions, struggles, problems, temptations, and short comings just like the rest of the world. Mental depression is one of those things that many preachers struggle with daily. It does not mean that the call on their life should change. It does not necessarily disqualify the man from being a preacher. It just means that he is human. After all, it is God working through the man, He is the one who called him to preach.
Because the preacher is simply a human being, he has the same needs as anyone else. People who deal with depression are prescribed medication and sometimes go to counseling sessions. There are many people who can manage this kind of depression from day-to-day. Some good and some bad days. If your preacher is dealing with depression, this struggle is real for him. So just because he may be on medication for depression, or maybe in counseling, does not mean that he is incapable of preaching and doing what preachers do. After all, it is God who is working in him and through him, and it is God who called him to preach.
What if your Preacher struggles with depression? What will you think of him? Will it change your opinion of his Ministry?
Many times, when people find out or hear that their preacher deals with depression, they seem shocked. At first, most people would never have known. Usually, because many preachers have become experts at putting on a good front. Sometimes, it is because some have already place the preacher in the category of not being a good preacher. Everyone, once knowing that the preacher deals with depression, has a need to process. After the processing moment, then what? Some lose faith in that preacher. They see him as spiritually weak and maybe sometimes even a hypocrite. They may not leave the church or ask for the preacher’s resignation, although they might, but they have less of an opinion about him as a faith filled man of God. Also, there are some who see the preacher as a man. Those are the ones who will surround the preacher with love and prayers. Those are the ones who God will use to minister to the preacher.
What you should do if your preacher is dealing with depression?
First, you should know this; the preacher who struggles with depression and continues to stay in the fight, he is the one who is like Job. He is the one who is fighting to be faithful, he is the one who, beside the fact that there is a massive daily battle going on, continues to press on. He is the one who is just like anyone else in the world who is living life trying to honor God with his life.
Second, think about being that person who prays daily for that preacher. Ask God what you can do to support him and help him in the ministries of the church. Make sure you are not using his struggles as an indicator that he lacks faith in God.
Finally, be on his side. After all, he is your preacher, he is on your side. Do not allow others to bring him down because of his struggles. Build him up and help him overcome so that he can serve the lord as the preacher, and do it well.
Do all of this for the glory of God!