“Well how do I forgive anyway!?” I said aloud. I was off a lake in Zambia, talking to God during my devotion time. My tone was slightly annoyed, almost in contradiction to the serene environment of my morning meditation. My prayer time had been going smoothly, up until the point when the Lord began to uncover instances in my life that warranted forgiveness… “You’re going to have to show me what forgiveness is!” I demanded out of frustration.
This type of functioning depression is real and is often hard to detect because it is hidden beneath the myriad of works and services that these leaders provide to their community. Everyone around sees the public success, while the leaders struggle with feelings of private failure. So how can we combat depression and restore our hope in God as leaders? We must build strategies that break this code of silence.
Rejoicing in the midst of trials, tragedies, and difficulties does not require the denial of the present pain. What you are seeing, and experiencing is real. Nevertheless, you should rejoice because your success is not rooted in your situation, or even in your ability to fix it—but it is firmly grounded in the track record of God. This is why Psalm 43 instructs us to place our hope in God as the remedy for a downcast soul. This is also why we are encouraged to rejoice in the Lord.
Too many leaders who are struggling in plain sight have never taken the time to assess their personal status. Some of our most powerful leaders delay this very important evaluation because they feel they don’t have the time, or that the movement or ministry will suffer. So they don their leadership hats, dig deeper, and neglect their personal health and wellness. Some even live in an Elijah-style time loop where they dwell in the depressed proverbial cave as they carry out great feats of miracles, signs, and wonders.
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… 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.
I am an extremely busy man. If you’re like me, the concept of balance proves elusive, seeming only to last a week at best. There are always demands on our time, not to mention the requirement to be emotionally present in every area of life. As I have wrestled with this concept of living a balanced life, I must say, with all transparency, that I have begun to rethink my perspective on balance.
Your team members came to you with their gifts, talents, and time. They have enhanced your vision, and in some cases even caused it to flourish. And now a few years into the work, one of your stronger team members tells you that they are moving on. What do you do? How do you handle this?
In today’s scripture passage… [Paul] admonishes these believers to consider the differences between lawfulness and expediency—in other words “just because you can do something, doesn’t mean that you should, nor that it is the best course of action.” As leaders, we often have the right and the ability to do whatever we choose. However, when a team is involved, our actions affect every member of our team.
Do you value the voice of your team members? Take a moment and intentionally reflect on this question. When they speak, do you actually stop to listen to what they are saying, or are you merely seeking to check off the “sought counsel” box? Do you feel that you can trust the insight that they give you? Leaders sometimes lament that good help is hard to find. If this is true, this also means that you must work to keep this good help once you find it.
Is your team ideologically diverse? Can you say that each of your team members brings a unique flavor to the work? Do all your team members feel respected, valued, and appreciated as they are, or do they feel the need to assimilate to the dominant culture? As the leader of the vision, you should ensure that all your team members feel welcomed and supported as they are—not as you would prefer them to be.