For the past few years I have struggled with something that is hard to talk about outside of a very tight close few friends. Anxiety and mild depression. Having grown up in church and being a part of ministry since I was very young–18-years-old. You learn that it’s one of those taboo topics that is hard to talk about. It’s hard because as a pastor you’re supposed to know the answer. And, not just know the answer, but live it out perfectly or risk the judgmental police.
I know all the anxiety verses. I can quote them in my sleep. I provide pastoral guidance for countless people and use those same verses. I really do believe them too. However, what do you do when you find yourself sleeping only a few hours a night? My anxiety comes from unfinished work. I see the imperfection in everything. I know I can and should do better. I see the mountain of “work” ahead of me and it consumes my thoughts. There’s one more parent who needs help. One more child who needs Jesus. One more resource that can be created. My brain doesn’t turn off. On top of that I fear missed potential. At the end of the day I want to leave it all on the floor. I want to walk through the right doors, make the biggest impact and do everything I can do fulfill the calling I feel on my life. My smile isn’t fake when I’m in public–it’s real. I’m not trying to pretend to be someone I’m not. I just can’t turn off.
My biggest hope is to inspire the conversation. Topics like this for ministers shouldn’t be taboo. They shouldn’t be tough to talk about. Probably the best thing that happened to me was finding a couple of great ministry friends who I found out struggle with the same thing. It was great to know that I wasn’t crazy. I also realized more ministers than I initially realize struggle with similar things. I think it comes from passion and being driven–maybe too driven. Whatever the case, you’re not alone.
I’d love to hear from you if this sounds familiar or if you struggle with something similar. We got this!