Please allow me to reiterate that, in-or out-of ministry, you will never look into the eyes of someone who has not suffered great pain. And, we all get depressed sometimes. I am constantly reminded of what a Pastor once told me: “You would be surprised to learn how many Pastors suffer from depression.” Yes, we would be surprised … yet … don’t we sometimes forget that Pastors … that all church leaders … are “people,” too.
In our business, we are honored to serve many Pastors, and other church leaders, with personalized plaques. One thing that the Lord revealed to me about the poem “Why, Pastor, Why,” or any plaque we send to honor a specific Pastor or church leader: We never know where they may be, with their relationship with God, or their congregation. I was reminded of the importance of “honoring those who honor Him.” We never know what that particular person may be going through. And, that the plaque we are sending to them may be the difference … may be just the “spark” they need to make a difference in how they view their calling … and, their flock … We try to pray over every plaque we send … to pray for the person being honored … and, for the person-or group-which are honoring them.
These same thoughts carry the same weight in dealing with those who aren’t in church leadership. Let us never forget that those around us, whether they are showing it or not, are going through their own battles. And, yes, a small percentage of those people may, at some point, come to us for advice. I pray every day that people will see Jesus in me. Every day. To me, that’s the most important thing about what I may or may not do, in a given day. And, especially when someone comes to me with a personal problem, something they are having trouble with (and, let’s face it, often the problem is with “someone” they are having trouble with), I want to be sure the Spirit gives me exactly the right thing to say. And, here goes … If I can’t say the right thing, Lord … please help me to not say anything!
So, we all face depression of one degree or another. It’s just part of being a human being. But, it’s how we deal with these negative feelings that makes the difference. Yes, I get depressed, sometimes. We all do. It’s just “part of it.” The difference is how we allow these negative feelings to affect us. So, I’d like to help you with a couple of thoughts about what to do when these “feelings” try to take over. The phrase “take over” is critical here. If we allow any thought or feeling to take over our mind … that’s just what it will do. It will “take over” every part of our thoughts … leading to taking over every part of our actions.
First … Please … Please … Please …
Talk to Jesus.
If you don’t do this … and, I hate to tell you this, but I must:
If you don’t “tell it to Jesus,” don’t go to Him first … you are already on losing ground. I know that’s hard, but it’s true. The key over everything-and certainly including depression-is … your relationship with Jesus. And, I’ll say it again … How can you have a relationship with someone you don’t talk to? And … how can you trust someone you don’t know? And, again, how important is it for you to start each day with Prayer and Bible study? So, first talk to Jesus.
One of my favorite verses is always “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7). Just knowing that we can go directly to God’s throne should be a major comfort to us:
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
How about this one: “So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear …” (Hebrews 13:6). So, go to Jesus first.
Should I talk to others about my issues? Now … that’s a loaded question. There is the old saying that “misery loves company.” The reason that’s an old saying is because it is still true. Be careful who you go to for advice. Period. You should, and it is Scriptural, seek counsel: “A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels” (Proverbs 1:5). Notice how early this verse comes in “the book of Wisdom.” In fact, how about this: “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14). Please ask God to lead you to the right person to speak to, and God will make that happen. Please, though, and we’ve all done this … Please don’t pick someone out to talk to, just because they will agree with you … Go to someone who will tell you the truth … even if it hurts to hear what you may have to do … If God sends you to someone, there is a reason … so, hear this verse from Proverbs 12:15: “he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.”
Just be sure of the source! Again, please be careful who you speak with! God is not the only one who is capable of sending someone to speak with/influence you! That had to be said!
Solomon is considered the wisest man who ever lived. We’ve all read his words. Yet … here we are, some 3,000 years later, and we are still struggling with the exact same things, the same questions, which he had. Remember that Solomon changed over time … Why? How? One of the main reasons Solomon changed was because of who he allowed to influence him: His friends, his associates, yes, his wives-and his wives’ families … So, I just can’t say enough how important it is … who you “hang with” … who your friends are … who you allow to influence you …
It’s all about relationships, isn’t it? If it’s one thing that has “gotten me down” over the years, it has been relationships, and especially who I allowed to influence me. On the other hand … and I write this to encourage you … it there’s one thing that has changed my way of thinking … helped me “come out of it” over the years, it has been those positive influences in my life …
I’m going to say this, and it’s a tough, tough, thing, but it is true and tested:
You just can’t have enough positive influences in your life. And, not just people. Read … expose yourself to positive stories … stories which will encourage and inspire you …
On the other hand (here’s the tough, but must be said part):
It can take only one “bad” influence to bring all of the dominoes down.
So, put your relationship with Jesus at the top of the list.
He will supply the rest of the list for you.
One more verse which helps me so much:
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).
There is another verse which I feel led to share with you … a verse I shout over … which encourages me so much … It is from Isaiah … Wait! Let’s read this one first:
“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am they God: I will strengthen thee, yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness” (Isaiah 41:10). Now, here’s the verse which takes so much fear away: “In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee” (Isaiah 54:14). Yes! That says that even “terror shall not come near me!”
God’s Word is so good! So true! And … so necessary!
Hope this helps!
Blessings to you, and your family,
Richard. Vincent. Rose.