An article came across my social media news feed the other day that caught my attention...a Youth Pastor who battled depression, while leading ministry and lived to tell about it. When I had a chance to go back and read it, he brought up the very reasons Bring Me 70 exists.
Here's a stat that hasn't been mentioned, in the growing list of reasons to #pray4pastors.
Forty-five!! percent of youth workers will fight depression at some point.
45%. Nearly half. In fairly short order, I can begin naming names of friends in youth ministry or senior pastors who have healthy churches as a whole. To think that half of them have faced depression, will face depression or are in battle now, while engaged in a healthy church and a solid youth group is disconcerting at best and alarming at worst.
Aaron Helman, the youth pastor from Indiana who wrote the article (and also writes on Smarter Youth Ministry) made another great statement that bears repeating:
"Ignoring your own problems is the easiest way to make sure you’re not available to help with anyone else’s."
Two sentences in the article later, he moves a couple steps into the future...
"If you burnout because of some unaddressed issue, your ministry will fall as well."
While it's true, healthy churches are made of healthy people, it's also true that it will be hard to maintain healthy ministry if the minister is unhealthy.
Whatever the issue or problem may be, confession is good for the soul. Not for world consumption through the medium of social media, at least not initially, but at least sharing that a problem exists, that it's your problem directly or it involves or affects you in some way... sharing it releases you from feeling that you are controlled by the problem. Share it with someone who is healthy and they will have the strength and stamina to do what is necessary and work through it with you.
Otherwise...what they don't know... it might not hurt them, but it will affect them when it brings you to ruin and it will damage the person who lives in denial, fear or defeat when they consider whether a problem exists.
Pray, this #youthPastorWednesday, for pastors, particularly kids and youth, that are battling depression. Pray that the spirit of bondage that consumes them with thoughts of failure, defeat, self-worth and whatever else the enemy would like to use against them to render them useless and ineffective for God would be broken. Pray God would lift their spirits. May God grant discernment as to whom and when they should share and confess their battle. May grace and love abound in those moments. Pray God would surround them and strengthen them. May their hope and trust in God regarding this battle be renewed. Pray for the lives that will impacted, when pastors begin experience these challenges and confess their admission... that leaders aren't perfect, nor are their followers.
God work the miraculous, for those in this specific battle. We commit them to your care. Accomplish your will in the lives and their ministry. May they emerge victorious, with greater perspective and understanding, ready for the next level you have in store for them. Focused minds. Ready hands. Joyful hearts. For your glory, we pray in the name of Jesus.
Just a man, attempting to fulfill God's plan. Husband, Dad, Dreamer. Blogger.