Dealing With Depression As A Leader
If you've ever attended a great conference or retreat, you know the feeling. By the end of the conference, you’re on a spiritual high. It was true for me at the All About Worship Conference last week.
The conference was a powerful time not just for the attendees, but also for me personally. Every message the speakers shared and every worship time was so spirit-led and spirit-filled. It was life-changing for me personally. And, I know from hearing from many of the attendees and speakers, that it was life-changing for them as well.
God moved in a powerful way as about 60 people from across the country gathered to seek His face. Chains were broken. People worshipped in ways they’ve never felt free to before. New lasting friendships developed.
As we gathered at the last session for a Q&A panel, there were some great discussions about leadership dynamics, handling difficult situations, and growing a worship team. A few of the attendees expressed their struggle with depression. A significant amount of time was spent addressing that issue because more and more questions were raised.
I didn't get to share my thoughts on it due to time, so I’ll go ahead and share some thoughts here, in hopes that it might help some of you. Before I do, here’s a disclaimer: I am not a psychologist or a doctor, just someone who used to struggle with depression.
I used to struggle with depression A LOT. When I started leading worship, as an 18 year old, I would go into depression almost immediately after a Sunday morning service. I would go home and take a nap to try to sleep it off. However, it would come back during the week to haunt me, especially when I was alone.
I know depression can be a serious mental illness that may require medication, so I’m not negating that. However, I think many of us church leaders and worship leaders can struggle with depression because we get discouraged. We get discouraged because people didn’t respond the way we had hoped. Or, there are people creating dissention within the church. Or, sometimes it’s just a spiritual attack from the enemy when everything is going very well.
Sometimes it’s because of self-pity and self-absorption. Remember Jonah? He watched a whole city turn from their sins and worship God, yet he got depressed and told God it would be better for him to die.
I've found that if I allow discouragement to have real estate in my mind, it will lead to depression. I can tell you from personal experience, this can become a vicious cycle.
Our thoughts and our words are powerful...
Philippians 4:8 says: “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
Proverbs 18:20-21 says: “Wise words satisfy like a good meal; the right words bring satisfaction. The tongue can bring death or life.”
Be careful what you think and be careful what you speak over your life and over your circumstances. Don’t let discouragement become your identity. Don’t let it take over your mind. The enemy loves to fill your mind with his lies.
Again, I am not ignoring the fact that some people may need to take medication. If you think you have chronic depression, you should go see a doctor. However, I think often depression is a result of us allowing discouragement to grow and take over. It’s from us not having the right perspective.
If you’re dealing with discouragement or depression, I encourage you to go talk to your pastor or someone else you trust. Surround yourself with people who will speak life over you, people who will speak God’s Truth over your life.
And remember: Your identity is not in what you do, it’s in what He already did.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Image courtesy of ShiftWorship.com
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