Depression in the Christian Life Part 1

Oh great, another article about depression...   I know that this is no where near a new topic for people.  However, there is a realm of depression that is not talked about as much.  I am a pastor, I also struggle with depression, by the way, I am 24.  This creates a very unique combination that people have a hard time understanding.

The Problem
Whether I like it or not, as a pastor, there are certain expectations of me.  I should be the first to model Christ-like actions.  I am the one to be instructing, encouraging and guiding others out of sin.  As a pastor, I should not struggle with sin in the same way.  People wouldn't argue that we don't face temptation but they do believe we should be the most equipped to deal with it, right?  People do not like knowing that their pastors deal with issues as well.  Certainly there are those who care.  Please don't get me wrong, but on a average, it is not for a pastor to discuss his weaknesses with his congregation.  It is similar to how the chain of command works in the military.  Complaints go up, they don't go down.  A general would never complain to his subordinates.

This illustration actually uncovers a deeper issue.  There is no hierarchy in God's kingdom.  A pastor simply a person called to a specific task, just as anyone can be.  Somewhere along the line, we have placed pastors on this higher level.  Certainly Paul is correct in James 3 where he warns us that teachers are held to a tighter responsibility.  Though more responsibility does not mean better or higher in any regard.  So to assume that pastors are something special is to set your pastor up for failure.  We are nothing but fellow Christians following the call of God.

The Question
Since I do not want people to assume that I am something more than what I am, I try to be open with the people I serve with.  There are people you share things with and people you should not share things with.  This is just common sense and cannot be overlooked.  I do not tell the visitors coming for their first time all about my messed up life.  I talk to those who are committed to the body and have displayed a level of honesty and integrity.

This past week I shared with a sister in Christ about my struggle with depression.  She certainly was taken back but more because of my age than my position.  It was then that she asked the question that sparked this mini series.  She asked, "How does your spiritual life work when you are struggling with depression?"  This is a great question for all of us.  We should ask this about all of our struggles with sin, not just depression.  How does a Christian work out the struggle with sin and their spiritual life?  Please note that I say, "struggle with sin" which is not to mean sinning but rather the struggle with the temptation to sin.

The Goal
I hope to encourage you with this discussion.  I want us to think beyond the basics of temptation in the life of a believer and ask the more difficult questions.  While all temptations have the ability to lead us to a battle with sin, depression is a particular one that can be so difficult to deal with.  It affects the mind in such a way that the Christian life becomes much harder to live because of it.  Depression can often be described as a fog in your mind.  It has the ability to cloud your thoughts and really twist your perspective on life.  Depression is a circular battle.  It feeds off from it's own byproduct.  For that reason, depression becomes a very serious issue in a believer's life.  In the second post I will share a bit about my life and struggle with depression and how I answered that lady's question.