This week we’ve talked about mental health issues and challenges, especially as it relates to ministry. Rick Warren is famous for saying “God never wastes a hurt”. John Maxwell has said something to the effect of, “when you fall down, you might as well pick something up while you’re down there.” And, I think it was Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel who said, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”
Therefore, I would say, “the more you hurt, the more you care.” The more hurt you experience, the more you will care about those who hurt.
It’s funny how my wife and I move quickly toward people who suffer with panic or anxiety. Interesting how I care about those who have alcoholism in their family. With each added hurt, we gain a new ability to care.
In some of my research this week I passed over a Google search item that said, “What pastors can learn from Depression”, or something like that. I did not want to read about all the good things that can come from Depression. I did not even click on it. I thought it would be a pile of spiritualizing dither, attempting to invalidate someone’s pain.
Yet today I find myself thinking about the upside of suffering. I mean, nobody ever signs up for it. Suffering, that is. No one wants it. It comes normally out of the blue, unwanted, despised even. We want to have a good year, a nice day, or a fine time – yet here comes Suffering, strolling down the street toward us, in all its hideous glory. Like Jesus speaking to Nicodemus, Suffering says, “I am coming to your house today!”
Mental illness holds its own special brand of suffering. It’s one thing to have to bandage a wound, put a cast on a limb, or take antibiotics for infections. It’s another thing altogether to not be able to trust how your brain is processing information, or establishing any of a range of emotions. We lose trust in ourselves, our ability to discern and/or understand the reality in front of us.
If you as a pastor have experienced this, then great – you have a special ability to now care for others who deal with it! If you are having to help and/or counsel people dealing with mental health, and you haven’t suffered with it, consider talking to someone who has, to gain at least a second hand understanding of it.
If you’re always “having a great day!” as a pastor, you won’t be able to come alongside people who are hurting. You have to hurt, to help those who hurt. So if your hurt is in the mental health area, then, well, you might as well pick something up while you’re down there. Yes, don’t waste that crisis or that hurt.
Finally, I came across a FANTASTIC article written by two pastors who have experienced burnout and depression and lived to write about it. The article is over 7,000 words long and really covers every angle of the topic completely. The link is below – you will really enjoy it, learn from it, and be encouraged by it. It’s also a great resource for helping yourself or others struggling with either burnout, depression, or both.
Coming Out of the Dark: Two Pastors’ Journey Out of Depression
There is a companion article for Pastor's wives right here:
Coming Out of the Dark: Two Pastors’ Wives Share in Their Husbands’ Journey Out of Depression
This weekend, spend a few extra minutes looking some of your folks in the eye, and listening to their hurts, fears, and problems. Take the time to get to know your people, then love them, then feed them… and only then, can you lead them.
Remember, don’t completely despise hurt and suffering. Because, the more you hurt, the more you care.
Have a wonderful weekend!
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