Most of us have been impacted by depression and suicide, and those of us in ministry perhaps even more so. We have walked alongside people suffering from depression, we have grieved with those mourning losses from suicide, and we have suffered in dark seasons ourselves.
Ministry leaders are particularly vulnerable to feeling compelled to present a sparkling “public ministry persona.” It’s not easy to admit that the things we promote (desiring God, pursuing godliness, loving others, etc.) are sometimes the very things with which we struggle. If Papa John ate and enjoyed another brand of pizza would he own up to it? Do we expect financial advisors to disclose previous investment mistakes? Probably not.
Every ministry leader -- whether young or mature -- must lead well, and this often includes navigating through the complexities of multiple transitions as God brings changes, challenges, growth, and even retirement. There are four critical areas a leader must address in order to transition well: Identity, fears, leadership style, and preparation. These challenges have the potential to sabotage you and your ministry unless you intentionally and proactively address them.
In the lean and hard years of ministry I often prayed, “Lord, would you move me somewhere else? Would you put me in a church where I don’t have to do everything, and where I can have more influence? (for your glory, of course!)” The Lord answered those prayers with a “No.” In His wise and gracious providence, he kept me as the solo shepherd of a small congregation.
The Lord is teaching me through being a solo shepherd that I am not the savior of the church. By looking to Jesus Christ as my joy and reward, I can more easily be, as the hymn writer puts it, “Content to fill a little space, if Thou be glorified.”
Women are working hard in many thriving churches and parachurch ministries as leaders, pastors’ wives, and other support staff, and we should care about their hearts and souls.
As a female leader, I have been equipped for ministry by the multiple mentors and caregivers who have poured into my life over forty years. Here are some simple ways people have discipled and shepherded me, enabling me to both function more productively and flourish in ministry.
Many of us face challenges during the Christmas season -- whether grief, stress, remembering loved ones, dealing with painful family dynamics, and more. As we think about spending holidays with family and friends -- or entering any situation for that matter -- it helps to assess our level of "emotional capacity," defined as the maximum amount of emotional energy that we can offer.
All of us have emotional capacity, and that capacity varies given our personalities, unique situations, and relationships we are currently in. Capacity also involves our emotional health, briefly defined as our degree of self awareness and ability to feel what we are feeling.
R.E.S.T. is a tool you can use to help manage your emotional capacity. It is a healthy way to invite God into your life, to honor Him, and to realistically assess your own capacity. See yourself through the "grace-filled" eyes of Christ.