TJI Research says about 25-30% of preachers struggle frequently with depression and over 70% deal with it occasionally. I have several preaching friends who I know take medication for their depression. Of course, it is no sin to so struggle! I heard an insensitive preacher once say it was a matter of a lack of faith - sad. It is most often chemical imbalance, for us preachers. Whether imbalances or not a minister’s depression carries the potentially crippling fuel of the constant stream of difficult people and the stress of the carrying the burdens of others, added with a never ending inbox and insane work hours. Those factors have driven more than a boat load of guys out of ministry. It’s odd - some folks can go along for a long time and then be blindsided by the stress that leads to a depressed state of mind. Others seem to never be bothered by it. I don’t want to preach you a sermon but here are a couple of reminders that might help:
- You are never as bad as some folks think you are (or as good as others do).
- There are many, many more who would encourage you than discourage you - it’s just the voices of discouragement seem louder and more continual.
- Believe your own sermons. God loves you, is patient with you, forgives you, gives you a second chance when you fail, is on your side, wants the best for you - just like you preach He does to/for others.
- Rest. Few things feed depression like a lack of rest. God created it and told us to do it. Someone told me once “the devil never rests, never takes a day off.” I might not should have but I responded that I wasn’t trying to be like him but like God and He did take a day to rest.
- We love you! Guys, let’s be real with each other. What we do is not about numbers and a pollyanna positivity - if we can’t be honest with each other about our struggles and strive to understand and support each other we are in a heap of trouble. Don’t make every preacher you encounter feel like everything always has to be great in “their church” or “wonderful” when it’s not. When you struggle be honest about it.
- Move on. Depression is most often fueled by something. At some point set those things aside, get the help you need and move forward.
God bless you all.