Are you reluctant to share your weaknesses with those you serve? You might question if people will take you less seriously if you appear not to have it all together, or if you have struggles that aren’t quickly “fixed” by a faith-filled prayer. I would encourage you to take a risk and share your journey. People cannot relate to those whose lives seem perfect or untouched by sorrow, failure, or disappointment. Most importantly, the Bible models an example of transparency in struggle. The apostle Paul writes:
“‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses . . .For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NIV)
You’ll notice that Paul didn’t exclusively share his story after a bright and shining ending had been written. He shared while in the middle of his weakness, unsure of how his story would end. Sometimes the road we face is a dark journey, and we don’t know how it’s all going to turn out, at least here on earth. But those we lead will benefit from our transparency. While we need to teach God’s word, we also need to show how our faith impacts our lives when things get hard.
3 Reasons Pastors Should Share their Mental Health Journey
1. Your Story Can Encourage People to Seek Help
When someone hears from a pastor that it’s okay to seek mental health care, it’s powerful permission. Sometimes all someone needs is encouragement from someone they trust that it’s normal and beneficial to see a counselor or a psychiatrist.
2. Your Story Can Bring Hope
When someone is in a mental health crisis, whether it’s depression, debilitating grief, trauma, addiction, or another severe diagnosis people often say, “You should pray more and read your Bible.” While that can be helpful, we were created for relationship and people who are struggling don’t need a pat answer. They need people who will walk with them in their journey, especially those who have been there before. If you have, or are even currently struggling with a mental health issue, your story can bring hope to someone who may feel they are completely alone.
3. Your Story Can Break the Stigma
As a leader you have the opportunity to educate and empower those you lead. If you have the chance to let one person know that mental health is just as important as physical health, do it! Jesus lives in us and His light shines through us. Shining a light on mental illness through honestly sharing your journey has the power to break the stigma.
God can use our stories to strengthen those who are facing struggles of their own. Your diagnosis is not our identity, but an opportunity to comfort and love those the Lord has placed in our care.
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NLT)
How have you been impacted when those in leadership have shared their struggles?
If you are facing depression, grief, or a difficult situation you can’t seem to work through on your own? Please click HERE to connect to a counselor (in Clark & Cowlitz County, WA or Multnomah County, OR).
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