Archives For depression

The sting of Robin Williams’ death strikes in a sore place in the cultural subconscious next to the memories of Phillip Seymore Hoffman and Mitch Hedberg.

All death is tragic. Suicide especially.

The death of Robin casts a particular shadow on those of my generation. Aladdin and Hook are the stories of our childhood. Patch Adams, Dead Poets Society and Good Will Hunting taught us how to grow up.

Depression is tragic. When it affects someone like Robin, we are all hurt.

Depression is also normal, natural and must be responded to within the church.

We can’t eliminate depression or suicide. But we can, and we must, become a refuge for those who experience it.


Let’s admit we have a problem

Depression has been a lifelong companion for me. It makes up some of my earliest and strongest memories. It hovers on the horizon of my future. Continue Reading…

Sometimes, life is tough. You aren’t going to solve all your problems over night. There are small problems you can address, which immediately help you feel better about the world. They won’t fix your marriage or get you a job, but they might clear your head enough to deal with the real issues.

Try these 10 completely unscientific remedies that will help you feel better about the world. (Click the numbers at the bottom to see the entire list.)

1. Clean Up



When you have bigger problems to deal with, it’s easy to let other things go to rot. You stop shaving, your bedroom becomes a mess or your kitchen is full of rotting food. How we care for our bodies and our living space affects our state of mind. Take a few minutes to clean up. The activity will feel good, and you will feel more comfortable. Continue Reading…

A few years back my friend J.R. Briggs had the dream of creating a space for “gutsy, hopeful, courageous and vulnerable for pastors to let go of the burden to be a Super Pastor?”  He asked questions like:

  • What if we could hold an event that was free from the thrills and frills of other pastors conferences?
  • What if we came together as epic failures instead of how-tos?
  • What if we were reminded that we’re not responsible for being ‘successful’ in ministry?
  • What if we had a conference that was led not by household names, but by scandalously ordinary ministers and leaders?


If you are a church leader you need this.  You need a space to be yourself, and hear from others in your situation.  If you are in the Chicagoland area, mark your calendar for a road trip to Northern Seminary on April 26-27.  If not drop J.R. a line.  He might bring Epic Fail to your neighborhood.  If that won’t work, he is also available as a personal coach.

The figure calling to me all those years was, I believe, what Thomas Merton calls “true self.” This is not the ego self that wants to inflate us (or deflate us, another from of self-distortion), not the intellectual self that wants to hover above the mess of life in clear but ungrounded ideas, not the ethical self that wants to live by some abstract moral code. It is the self-planted in us by the God who made us in God’s own image– the self that wants nothing more, or less, than for us to be who we were created to be.

True self is a true friend. One ignores or rejects such friendship only at one’s peril.

Parker Palmer: The True Self is a True Friend

Isolation is a term coined by the late Fuller Professor Robert Clinton.  It refers to an experience where a leader is removed from a number of things, such as their position of leadership, a sense of God’s presence, a knowledge of calling or direction.  Isolation can be chosen, like taking a sabbatical or returning to seminary.  It can also be forced on you, like a health problem, imprisonment or getting fired.  It can last for weeks, or for years.

My major Isolation experience began when my position on a staff at a megachurch in San Antonio ended.  I was out of work for over six months.  I was unable to find a suitable ministry position, and eventually ended up in retail.  I went from having a place of positional leadership and what seemed like a career track to being alone, with no sense of direction and very little hope.

In studying Isolation as part of the MAGL, I read something from Dr. Clinton that basically went like this:

“Don’t try to be finished with your Isolation until you’ve gotten everything out of it that God wants you to get out of it.”

This floored me, because for two years, I’ve been trying to be getting out Isolation.  Unable to find direction, I tried to dive further into spiritual practices.  When I felt adrift in depression, I sought to distract myself, and eventually got into counseling to “fix it.”  I’ve had to learn what it is to do ministry when it’s not my job.  Worst of all, my sense of failure and lack of direction left me unable to even answer the question “what do you want to do?”

But this comment about “getting everything out of Isolation” forced me to reevaluate why I was in such a hurry.  If the perfect opportunity fell in my lap tomorrow, would I know what to do with it?  Am I mature enough to keep from repeating the mistakes I’ve made in the past?  Am I even the kind of person who should be trusted with leadership?

For the first time in almost three years, I am beginning to sense some “movement.”  It may be that some new opportunities are on the horizon.  But what’s the rush?  Maybe I still have something to learn from Isolation.