Recently at a YOULead women’s leadership training, we had a panel of leaders answering questions submitted by attendees. Several past and upcoming posts address those and try to help answer them.
Today’s question: Have any of you dealt with depression or anxiety and how do you push through that for ministry?
When our panel responded to this, we said, “None of us have ever dealt with that.” Okay, I’m only kidding. We all could identify with this leader’s inquiry. So, do leaders get depressed? Do we ever feel anxious?
Right now I am in a stressful season of ministry. It isn’t always like that, but to be honest, some days I feel like I’m on the verge of panic. Our big women’s leadership training is upon us along with other training events, state leader meetings and various other assignments. Today, I feel almost numb!
I personally have not dealt with severe depression, but I’ve been close to others who have. It’s not something you “just get over.” It’s also not a shameful illness!
So, our advice is…if you are in a severe depression, see a professional counselor and even a medical doctor if necessary. If you break your leg, you wouldn’t treat it yourself so don’t expect to treat yourself with emotional health issues either.
If you are in an exceptional season of stress, either due to ministry, personal, or work life, get alone, get with God for extended time, delegate responsibilities. God has a way to work through your gifts and weaknesses to accomplish HIS ministry. Ask Him who to hand off to and how much to hand off as you seek relief. Temporary seasons of stress are normal but extended seasons can lead to more severe problems if not dealt with.
Now, here’s the other thing, the women you lead desire authenticity in their leadership. They need to see you as normal and vulnerable. Obviously we share with discretion any sensitive issues we face, but not to share implies we don’t have problems!
Even if you have to step back from your position temporarily, it’s not a black mark but an honest assessment of your situation and willingness to get help. If it’s not something that would affect your ministry, you may just choose to continue to minister through it.
I will never forget when my family was facing the death of an in-law due to suicide. Within a week of the funeral I had our next YOULead training event. One of my friends and partners in this event told me she had prayed that God would “move our mountain,” referencing Matthew 17:20 (“Because of your little faith,” He told them. “For I assure you: If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will tell this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” HCSB) But as she prayed that, she told me that God indicated I should minister THROUGH the mountain.
As we prayed before the event began, I knew I had absolutely NOTHING to give. But from the moment I spoke until we wrapped up the event the next day, I experienced God’s power through His Holy Spirit as He literally carried me through the assignment He had given me. I knew it was Him alone and have watched Him do this more than once in my life.
Ask God what how He wants to work in and through you during this season. Listen to Him and obey Him whether it is to keep serving, take some time away, or delegate a responsibility until further notice. Your women will see you as a model of healthy handling of difficult situations.
Comment and share how God has taught you through a similar season in ministry.
Strength for the Journey, Paul Carlisle