I had planned to write today about leaving a leadership legacy, particularly after having lunch with coaching guru Terry Walling but the moment I read the news about a pastor’s death to suicide I was prompted to write something different.
Writing on the topic of depression and anxiety is a tough topic, and not one I do lightly. I’m not going to pretend I have answers, or that I know what people are going through. Every situation is unique and deep. But I can speak from my own experience and listening to the experience of many leaders that I mentor and coach.
Just because someone is a Christian, and even a Christian leader or pastor – does not make us immune to the illness of depression and anxiety. I am thankful that there is much more knowledge and research that has been done around the topic over recent years, so it doesn’t have quite the stigma that it used to. But it is still an illness that many leaders wrestle with and one that many try to hide. With that in mind, I share part of my own journey…
In 2007, I (Kylie) began my own battle with depression, at the time I was was a pastor at my local church, with 2 very young children, juggling life, leadership and parenting. When a disturbing incident catapulted me into a very dark place. A place where heaviness surrounded my every moment, where tears and anger were a daily occurrence, where sleep and alcohol where my deadening space. I didn’t speak to anyone about how I was feeling for a long time. Telling someone that you felt like you constantly lived in a fog, that you were prone to angry outbursts and drank to deaden the pain is not something that comes out easily. But eventually I did share, did it make it easier – no. But I realised I wasn’t alone anymore.
Now, I am forever grateful, that for some reason God chose to heal me of the illness. Through a significant prayer ministry time (hours) I walked into the room with the illness and walked out completely healed. I share this reluctantly, because I know many people who have prayed for healing and as yet still waiting. But I share it to encourage you to seek help, seek support, seek medical expertise and seek God – the giver and sustainer of life.
Christian leadership does not make us immune to this illness. But it gives us access to our creator and a church community who can carry us through it.
My prayer today for those who are battling with anxiety and depression, or a loved one who is. “That you would know that God holds you close, may you sense his loving embrace today”.
Read article on Pastor Andrew Stoecklein here
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