As the Christmas holiday approaches with all the additional events, shopping, and family gatherings, it can be a bit overwhelming. As pastors, we may feel the pressure to put on the “face” and barrel through, all the while ignoring the inner cries for rest and missing out on the joy of the season. If you have pastored for any season of time, you’ve more than likely ministered to a congregant who has suffered a loss, deals with severe anxiety, depression, or even suicidal thoughts. Ministering to those in need can deplete your well quickly. Make sure you take time to rest, engage in life giving relationships, and laugh (it’s good medicine! Prov. 17:22).
This past August, Pastor Andrew Stoecklein reminded us that ministers are not immune to anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts as he tragically took his own life. There is no shame in admitting that you have personal struggles in any of these areas (or maybe others that are not mentioned). The tragedy is when you try to deal with personal battles alone. Isolation and disengagement can be the enemy of your soul. Galatians 6:1-2 and 3 John 1:2 sum up our desire for you:
“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass (sin, sickness, or oppression), you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:1-2
Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 1:2
Paul Kuzma, Counselor at The Center for Spiritual Renewal has recommended the following resources to help you personally, and to prepare you to minister to those who are struggling.
ChurchTherapy.com (resources for pastors and counselors working together)
Mental Health First Aid (easily accessible, 8 hour FREE certification in Mental Health education, resourcing, and suicide prevention…I personally believe EVERY Pastor on every staff, and any children’s and youth workers, should take this easy course)
National Alliance for Mental Illness — NAMI (National organization resourcing clients and family members for education and support)
Hope For Mental Health (out of Saddleback, equipping resources for churches to make ministry for mental health happen)
Book: Coping with Depression in the Ministry and Other Helping Professions by Archibald Hart
Book: A Pastor’s Guide for the Shadow of Depression by Gary Lovejoy
Book: Seeing in the Dark: Getting the Facts on Depression & Finding Hope Again by Gary Kinnaman
Emotionally Healthy Discipleship (for helping pastors and congregants to be discipled in their emotional health and spiritual maturity)
Paul Kuzma, MA, Director CSR East | 936 Life Drive #45, Christiansburg, VA 24073 | o:540-394-7222, c: 805-501-1197 | request appointment online