I’m a member of a really awesome group on Facebook for Church leaders. A recent post from another leader asked the question: “Can you struggle with mental health and be a great ministry leader?”
There has been a stigma placed on “Mental Health” in our world, country, community, and even in ministry and the church. We are starting to make strides in reversing this stigma, but it still exists. A good reply to this was a different version of this question: “Can you be human and be a great ministry leader?”
God is our refuge and strength. [We don’t have to be strong enough on our own, because God is strong enough to care for us.]
Every human being is an imperfect being and we all struggle mentally and physically in our daily lives to some degree. Paul is a good example of this, and he was an incredible leader. Another great ministry leader that comes to mind in today’s world is Joyce Meyer who was abused as a child and certainly dealt with mental health struggles. The Bible is full of broken people who God used for great things.
- Abraham – Was old.
- Elijah – Was suicidal.
- Joseph – Was abused.
- Job – Went bankrupt.
- Moses – Had a speech problem.
- Gideon – Was afraid.
- Samson – Was a womanizer.
- Rahab – Was a prostitute.
- Samaritan Woman – Divorced.
- Noah – Was a Drunk.
- Jeremiah – Was young.
- Jacob – Was a cheater.
- David – Was a murderer.
- Jonah – Ran from God.
- Naomi – Was a widow.
- Peter – Denied Christ three times
- Martha – Worried about everything.
- Zacchaeus – Was small and money hungry.
- The Disciples – Fell asleep while praying.
- Paul – A Pharisee who persecuted Christians before becoming one.
Source – Jarrid Wilson
I want to share my own reply to this question when it was posted:
God uses all of our experiences for good. He doesn’t call the qualified… he qualifies the called. It’s hard for someone to understand or be empathetic to certain situations if they haven’t lived it themselves… God uses our lives and our testimony to qualify us to do His work. An example someone gave was that it’s difficult to understand and empathize with someone in poverty if you’ve had money your whole life. It’s hard to understand and empathize with someone who has chronic pain, mental health issues, or any “unseen” diagnosis because you cannot see it on the outside and unless you’ve felt it, you do not know what it is like. I work part time as a Telehealth Assistant. Today I was in a facility and one of my sweet patients has been having a hard time with loneliness and depression (they are literally stuck in their rooms due to COVID) and she hadn’t been able to get her cell phone to work and is waiting on her sister to get her a knew one in a couple weeks. But because of my own struggles and personal experiences, I felt what she said to the bone. Thus I was able to offer her some advice, let her know she is not alone and that I know exactly how she is feeling, and I was able to pray with her. God meets us where we are at, and he uses us for his plan. He knows our hearts!!! I’ve personally felt called to help people in any way I can. I’ve felt called to make a real change in the world… I’m so glad I found this group, because God has been putting it on my heart that The Church needs to come back together as a network and work together as one amidst all of the division. But to specifically answer you question, can you struggle with mental health and be a great ministry leader — I strongly believe that answer is yes! Joyce Meyer is one of my favorite examples of a pastor who has overcome major trauma in her life and became a great ministry leader. We are called to ministry because we have a heart and mind with a great capacity for love, empathy, and the ability to allow God to use every bad situation, every bad decision, and every hardship we’ve ever experienced for His good! God bless you today!
Well all face battles in our life. It is important still to understand that Mental Health disorders are a real phenomenon. People who have these conditions have had a physiological change to their brain chemistry and possibly even the shape of their brain. Depending on the severity it can require medication, talk therapy, magnetic stimulation, electrical stimulation, 12-step programs, and support groups.
It is totally possible (especially with God) to overcome mental health obstacles. The flip side of this is that becoming a Ministry Leader can be a good life change that can help with the reshaping of the brain as we change our thought patterns and actions. It also helps us to establish a healthy environment and have health interactions, all of which are important to effect the neuroplasticity of the brain and actually reshape the brain.
Through my own personal journey with abusive and unhealthy relationships, emotional trauma, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, depression, anxiety, and ADHD (all of which are neurologically related to each other and comorbid conditions) I have found that once I reached a certain point in my own healing process and recovery that how I see my own afflictions has changed completely from being detrimental and disabling to being advantageous, remedial, motivating, inspiring, thought-provoking, enlightening, and heartening.
Without these experiences I wouldn’t be who I am today, and I wouldn’t be as effective to answer God’s calling and fulfill His plan for my life, ministry, and leadership. I wouldn’t understand true peace and joy without first experiencing anxiety and depression. I wouldn’t understand Godly love the way I do without first experiencing the total opposite. I wouldn’t understand patience without first experiencing impatience. I wouldn’t understand kindness without first experiencing cruelty. I wouldn’t have learned the art of self-control in order to control and change my thoughts, emotions, and actions if I hadn’t experienced a lack of control over my mind, feelings, and reaction to my negative thoughts and feelings. To truly understand, empathize, and sympathize with other people’s struggles we have to feel and understand our own struggles.
In order to effectively lead someone out of darkness and into the light, we need to already know the way out of the darkness ourselves. If we go wandering around in the woods at night, and I am to lead you through the woods, I need to know the path to take. If I’ve walked the path before and successfully found the way out of the darkness, then I will be equipped to lead others out as well.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Lastly, in closing, scripture is full of God using broken people! Everyone is a little broken in some way. Many of God’s greatest ministry leaders came from shattered lives. God allows and gives us trials, periods of tribulation (suffering), and temptations so that we may grow in spiritual maturity and to show us that he can equip anyone to do his work.
– Pastor Sarah Grace