5 Things to know about depression in ministry

By Tony Rose

By Tony Rose

Depression is spoken about often but seldom understood.

I recently read a statement in a well-known Christian publication, “I’ve never met a bout of depression that a good night’s sleep wouldn’t fix.” One thing I know — the author had likely never met depression.

Here are five things I have learned, not just about depression, but through it:

1.Depression is no respecter of persons. 

Depression is like a prowling monster looking for likely and unlikely candidates to lure into darkness. Do not buy into the lie that depression only affects the weak. Some of God’s greatest servants faced this darkness. There are no exceptions. Everyone is susceptible to the enemy’s weapon.

2. Depression is far worse than you can imagine without experiencing it.

You can’t just snap out of depression. It can be as crippling as having two broken legs. The undue stigma associated with depression, especially for pastors, causes deep internal shame. The associated shame makes recovering from depression much more difficult. Telling someone to “snap out of it” is like hitting a man’s broken leg with a baseball bat. Words of compassion will bring healing. Words of correction may increase darkness.

3. It can undermine a sound-minded faith.

Depression cannot separate the believer from Christ. It can, however, disrupt one’s sound thinking and convince the most devout believer he is no longer loved by God. In the darkness of depression, a believer can doubt every promise of God and be convinced every judgment of God is upon him.

4. Those who comfort the depressed are under great strain.

The demands on a pastor’s wife while caring for her depressed husband are taxing beyond imagination. She will need help, too.

5. Remember, God never wastes our suffering.

The “night vision” of faith can only be learned in the dark (Isaiah 50:10-11). Depression can be the harshest, but best, teacher you may ever have. Depression taught me the depths of God’s tender mercies, the richness of His grace and my definitive need for Him. It taught me how to trust God in the dark while waiting for my feelings to catch up with my faith.

We are Send Network Podcast EpisodeSoul care in turbulent times

Pastor, are you struggling with depression? Pastoral Care Line: Call 1-844-PASTORS1 to talk to trained, professional counselors, available every day from 8 a.m. – 10 p.m. ET. Confidentiality is ensured by Focus on the Family.

Published July 21, 2020

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Tony Rose

Tony Rose is a Relational Leadership Trainer. He has served as a senior pastor for over 32 years, and he is married to married to Joie and they have four children and 10 grandchildren.