June 17, 2018 • Life for Leaders
Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
The deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain have left many reeling and confused. Family, friends, and fans alike are grappling with this notion that these impactful people took their own lives. They had money, influence, adoring fans—it seemed that they had every reason to be happy and secure in their positions in life. However, under the surface was a nagging uneasiness, a pervasive feeling of discomfort—they were struggling with depression. Here were two people who were suffering in plain sight, with very few people aware of the ongoing battle that they faced.
Anthony Bourdain was presumed to be an atheist, and Kate Spade’s religious views are unknown. It would be all too easy to say that these suicides could have been avoided if they had subscribed to Christianity. Yet the reality is that depression is not relegated to the realm of secularism. It is not simply a struggle for those who don’t know Jesus Christ as Lord Savior. The truth is that there are just as many strong servants of Jesus Christ who struggle with feelings of turmoil, bondage, and isolation that characterize depression. The truth is that there are many loved and respected pastors and Christian leaders who struggle with depression. And sadly, some who take their own lives.
Consider Elijah showing courage and conviction, working powerful miracles one day, and then barely holding on to his sanity and will to live the day after. I know this place all too well. There was a time when I was a leader hurting in plain sight. I allowed depression to control my life for years until not too long ago. And while I have been delivered from that system of bondage, it is something that occasionally attempts to reassert its place in my mind and emotions. How many other leaders in Christ’s body are faithfully serving, loving people with all they have, giving their resources and time, and yet also deeply downcast in their souls? How many leaders are struggling in plain sight?
Part of the power of depression comes from the stigma and the feelings of isolation that reinforce each other, leading to a code of silence. But it is time to dismantle that culture of silence and renew a conversation that restores hope, life, and security to our pastors and leaders across the globe. Through this new series, In Plain Sight, I will provide both spiritual and practical steps that we can take to deal with depression, and support those in leadership who struggle with it.
Leaders, I salute you for the sacrifices you make and for the passion and strength that you bring to Christ’s body. However, I want you to also know that I see you, I understand, and I am praying with you. From the pastors leading churches, to the parents leading their children, or to the community mentor providing one-on-one leadership to people of all ages, you matter to me—and more importantly to God. This series does not promise an exemption from struggling with a downcast soul or a depressed spirit, but it will equip you to counter this fight by placing your hope in God.
God, I pray that you would bring your light into our lives. Let it shine in such a way that it allows us to discover how magnanimous and present you are, and that it dispels the myth of isolation. Encourage the souls of your people. Pull them out of the pits of depression, and use this series to equip them with the tools to stay free from the weights that would seek to hinder their walk with you and their work for you. In Jesus’s name I pray, Amen.