Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Depression in the Ministry

For several years at Westminster Chapel, Lloyd-Jones chaired a monthly Ministry Fraternal with pastors and seminarians from around London. Each meeting featured discussion, a presentation, and a lot of fellowship and counsel. On one occasion, the topic turned to depression in the ministry. Here is Lloyd-Jones' counsel to the group gathered that day (from D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, quoted in The Fight of Faith, vol. 2 of Murray's biography, p. 705-6):

I can assure that depression in the ministry is not a problem of temperament. Men of every conceivable temperament get this trouble--the feeling that everything is on top of us. The one possible exception is the phlegmatic type who is not concerned about anything. He is so bucolic, ox-like, that he is not likely to feel a call to the ministry! Men in the ministry are sensitive men. I have met few others. The way to approach this problem is not along lines of temperament--that is incidental.

The big thing is not to start with the problem. Start with the question, what is your calling? Why are you in the ministry? What is the object of the ministry? Is the church mine? Why am I troubled? Am I concerned about my reputation? Why am I hurt? ... Our reactions are too often due to a wrong view of our calling. Remember Paul: "With me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self" (1 Cor. 4:3). I have found this to be the answer so many times. Paul had to go through it all. In Corinth men were praised more than Paul who were not worthy to shine his boots. Paul's concept of the ministry lay in his calling to be faithful. We should not make it a personal issue.

Isolate, then, your calling. Get that right. The antagonism we encounter is generally against the calling and most of our problems arise because we get immersed in day-to-day problems and forget what we are. "Should such a man as I flee?" (Neh. 6:11). Nehemiah was talking about his calling. That is the way to look at it. Certain things then become unthinkable and you will not hand in your resignation.

Let us remember who we are. We haven't entered a profession. We are servants of the living God!


Doug said...

This was helpful, Brother. Thank you.

Depression said...

Many people suffer from depression. Depression gnaws into the entire being, be it the physical aspect or the emotional one, It makes person lonely and discouraged. Depressed individual also suffer from pain or physical indicators. Many times even doctors fail to notice that. Some medications and therapy like cognitive behaviour based treatments might help. One should take doctors advice.