Pastors get depressed. Such is the nature of ministry. I had a very wise pastor once tell me, “have the skin of a lion and the tenderness of a lamb, because you’re a shepherd and sheep bite.” That sentiment has always stuck in my heart. I know this statement well. It has become my friend. Anytime I am wounded I think, “sheep bite.” Knowing that and understanding that are two very different things. I had another very wise friend tell me that the greatest hurts he has ever endured have come from people in the church. This is the reality of the world we live in. Heaven has not come and darkness still exists on this earth.
With that in mind I’d like to share some things I do physically to aid in the combat of depression. These do not eliminate depression nor will they always work; but they do lighten the load a little.
Turn on lights! It is so easy when you are depressed to hide in a dark room. Make sure you are in bright places, if you have to go outside, then go outside. Depression likes darkness, throw a light on and try to chase it away.
This one is difficult for me. I am a notorious dumper. What I mean is that I am notorious for walking into a room with an arm full of stuff and piling it somewhere in the room. As a result my office looks like a small grenade went off. Order and cleanliness are the antithesis of chaos and confusion. Often depression can loom because there is extreme chaos and confusion over life events. If your surroundings echo that, it will only serve as a reminder of what you are struggling to forget. Clean up and organize and you’ll have one less thing the adversary can use to discourage your heart.
Surround yourself with beauty. If there is no beauty, then make some. Create something beautiful. Find a place of beauty that you can rest in and admire. Remind yourself that God is more beautiful than your troubles and is gracious to supply your every need. Let your heart be inspired by great music and great art! Perhaps you’ll be reminded of how small the things that depress you are.
FRIENDS AND FAMILY
Even introverts need people. Find people who love you and tell them you are troubled. Use the word troubled, its much less weird than depressed. Let them know what it is that troubles you and let your feelings be known clearly and concisely. They can love you in ways that can lift your spirit… let them do that.
DO SOMETHING YOU DO WELL
I played basketball in high school with intentions of playing in college, but that is a story for another day. I can usually sink about 80 percent of the free-throws I take. My all-time high was about 215 in a row before I missed. The guy that beat me made two more than I did. So, I’m a decent free-throw shot. So when I get depressed or angry, I’ll go shoot some free-throws (some of you are reading this thinking, “ahhh now I see why you were in the gym that day!) I’ll shoot for a bit, and then I’ll be able to think rationally. I feel better about myself and have a little bit more clarity of vision. I know how to shoot a free throw. I know I can do it. I may not know how to handle everything in life, but I can shoot a free throw. When you’re depressed, go shoot some free-throws. Find something you’re good at and make time to do it for an hour or so.
REMEMBER THIS IS TEMPORARY
As a believer, it is imperative that we remember that all of these troubles we face are temporary. There will be a day when there is no more struggle or pain… take the long view. Eternity is much greater than here and will last much longer! My brother and I like to remind ourselves of something Dad used to say, “Don’t sweat the small stuff… and remember, if you back up far enough, everything is small stuff.” It is easy to say that when you’re not depressed. However, if you will look at something great and immense when you are depressed, perhaps you’ll remember.