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On Waiting With Patience (via Jani Ortlund)

Everyone waits, but there is a waiting that is the fruit of trust in God, and there is the waiting that is a stewing form of complaint.
God gives us opportunity to grow in love and trust for him while we wait.

From Jani Ortlund:

Patience is not quite the same as waiting. While waiting is something we do, patience is something we offer. We wait because we must — we have little choice in the matter. But patience is our gift to our Father while we wait. In the silence, in the waiting, patience chooses to declare, “Lord, I love you. I know I don’t love you as I ought, but I want to love you more than your answer to my prayers. I will try to offer you my patient heart as long as you ask me to wait on this.”

Read the whole post at Desiring God.


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Living With Pastoral Anxiety (via Religious Affections Ministries)

This was an interesting article in which the writer describes the concern that pastors live with regarding the well-being of those they serve in ministry.
The concern is not a sign something is wrong, rather it is a mark of calling.
And it is part of our lives, to some degree or another, every minute of every day.
It may not be the only thing on our minds, but it is never completely absent from our minds.
And it is never completely resolved.
What can go wrong is the way pastors deal with the concern.
Sometimes we allow it to take us to dark places.
It should drive us to God.

From David Huffstutler:

It is a care for others and can tend toward worry and even despair if we do not cast these anxieties to God in prayer. It is the pressure of anxiety for others that moves us to act on behalf of the ones whose needs we perceive. It usually involves being anxious over people’s sin—we hope that they will forsake sin, grow in Christ, and persevere. In fact, 2 Corinthians 11:29Open in Logos Bible Software (if available) describes Paul as burning within (puroō) for those who are weak and fall. It also involves being anxious over people’s suffering—we hope that they will carry on in the face of difficulty and trial. Moreover, we hope that everyone will do these things together as they carry out the mission of the church and make disciples for the sake of the Name.

Read the whole post at Religious Affections Ministries.


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Experiencing Reality Through A Filter Of Sadness And Sorrow (via John Starke)

John Starke writes about pastoring during a season of depression.
And a source of encouragement through that time.

I began to notice that I wasn’t just sad or discouraged about my circumstances. Something was different. There was a darkness that had set in. My sorrow and discouragement began to wrap around me and squeeze. It was hard to not experience my entire reality (my family, work, rest, prayers) through the filter of sadness and sorrow.
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But the more I had opened up and talked about it, the more I heard from other pastors and colleagues that they had never experienced depression until they went into pastoral ministry or engaged some significant conflict or discouragement in their work. I wasn’t alone. What was remarkable was that while words of truth and encouragement often felt as effective as cough syrup for throat cancer, the abiding presence of a fellow sufferer was like the hand of God over my wounds. It helped enlarge my scope of reality. Depression was like being in a confusing, blindingly dark cavern, but the presence of someone who could give witness to my pain was like a voice in the dark, awakening some hope that there may be some direction out.

Read Stark’s post at 9marks.


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Pastoral Anxiety (via Kevin DeYoung)

Kevin DeYoung reflects on Second Corinthians 11:28 “apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.”
Pastoral life brings what Paul characterises as “anxiety,” and DeYoung is at pains (as is Paul) not to be seeking pity, or to make out that this anxiety is worse that concerns that so many have as part of their daily lives.
Being a pastor is a wonderful calling.
But this anxiety is a constant companion. It doesn’t get left on a desk or worksite at the end of the day. It’s never completed.
This though, is normal.
And if you’ve got a disposition that gets a bit blue at times then it weighs a bit heavier sometimes than others.
Sometimes black dog Monday lasts through till Wednesday.

DeYoung wants to simply “encourage pastors to keep fighting the good fight and encourage congregations to keep encouraging their pastors.”

Read more at Ligonier.


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Ten Types Of Thinking That Undergird Depression (via ERLC)

This is an article by Brad Hambrick, published by the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.
These ten types of thinking are described as fuelling the depressive-anxious experience.
From personal experience they certainly resonate.
It would be helpful to understand that this is not a matter of identifying these in others and tell them to stop it.
Rather it is a self-diagnostic tool to help individuals recognise that which is unhelpful and unproductive in recovery and self-management.
It is also helpful for those who support sufferers about what sort of thought patterns not to encourage.

The list.
There are expanded explanations and ‘pay attention’ descriptions to help diagnose practical explanations of the thinking at work in the article itself:

1. Idealistic: Ideals are good goals without a sense of time.
2. Impossibly high goals: Impossible goals are either super-human or lack achievable pieces.
3. Personalization: Everything is not “about you.”
4. Emotional reasoning: When we believe our emotions are true in spite of facts to the contrary, this is emotional reasoning.
5. Catastrophisizing: This style of worst-case scenario thinking (i.e., “I’m going to die, fail out of school, be single forever, etc.) is very frequent at the onset of a panic attack.
6. Dichotomous thinking: “It is either great or terrible. It is clearly not great, so it must be terrible.”
7. Selective attention: We constantly filter our attention.
8. Superstitious thinking: In children or sports fans, superstitious thinking can be cute or entertaining.
9. Passivity: “If I can’t [blank], then I won’t do anything.” This is a pattern of thought that often causes people to cycle between depression and anxiety.
10. Equating worth with performance: This mindset requires “salvation by works alone” for you while allowing “salvation by grace” for everyone else.

Read the whole article here.


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Practical Ways To Nurture Mental Health (via Amy Simpson)

Significant changes to eating (drinking), sleeping, and physical activity over the last eight or so months have had some noticeable effects on physical appearance, but they’ve also produced a more stable emotional and psychological state.
The black dog still comes sniffing, but I feel in a stronger place to deal with it.

This post by Amy Simpson provides a number of life-style changes that, while not being a cure-all for existing conditions or a replacement for other treatments, go some way towards building resilience that counter bouts of mental health problems

From her post:
…some of the things that can go wrong with our brains are outside our control—we can’t always do anything to prevent genetically inherited conditions, the consequences of trauma, or other forms of injury and disease.
At the same time, our mental health is not entirely outside our control. In fact, even when a genetic predisposition is present, or our circumstances are harmful, our lifestyle choices can prevent a disorder from developing, lessen its severity, or help us achieve better recovery. Regardless of our predispositions, experiences, or sense of health, it really doesn’t make sense for anyone to neglect the opportunity to protect and strengthen our mental health.
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Making choices like these won’t guarantee you never experience a mental disorder or emotional struggle. And they probably won’t be enough to “cure” a challenge you’re already living with. But in either case, they will help. So as you’re thinking about your health, give some thought to that powerful organ that sits above your shoulders. Consider the all-important function of your mind. And do something good for yourself.

Go here to see her list of practical suggestions.


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The Long Game (via Erik Raymond)

Erik Raymond provides perspective on the up and down experiences of pastoral life.
It’s easy to slip into regrets about the past or apprehensions about the future.
It’s also easy to feel overwhelmed in the present.
Raymond’s counsel is realistic and grounded.

Play the long game and keep your chin up. Have the pastoral job description at hand and remind yourself of it. If we are doing what we are supposed to be doing and focusing primarily on what we are called to do, then we can be safeguarded against pride in seasons of prosperity and despair during the difficult times. This will certainly free us up to rejoice in God’s sovereignty to make a people for himself—even by means of such unlikely materials.

Read the whole post here.