When You Are Ready To Move Forward
Did you know that 1 in 5 people struggle with depression, anxiety, or a more severe mental illness? Further, 2 out of 3 people that struggle with mental illness are not getting help.
Let's do the math...
If your church has 100 people attending, then 20 of them struggle with some form of mental illness. Of those 20, 18 of them are not getting the help they need. That's right, 18% of your church are suffering in silence!
How is your church meeting that need? Many times, church is the first place a person turns for help. Sadly, most churches are not prepared.
Now here is the dirty little secret of ministry: pastors are not immune! The 18% that struggle with mental illness may include you or a member of your leadership team. I know, because as I served churches for 16 years, I was one of those that struggled with depression for which I never told anyone or sought help.
The results were that my family suffered, my ministry suffered, and throughout that time, there were many times when I could have lost everything.
Last year, I finally reached my lowest point. I detail it in my book, Baggage Claim: One Minister's Journey Through Depression to Peace.
I am currently scheduling dates to speak at churches. I am available for 1, 3, or 5 messages. The ideal arrangement would be for your church to schedule one Sunday to dedicate to this growing need. On that Sunday Morning, I will present a message of hope, encouraging those who struggle to finally admit there needs. We know that the first step is to say, "I need help." After all, Jesus taught that blessed are the poor in spirit!
Following the morning service, I encourage you to plan a luncheon for your church leaders. During this time I will present a simple, but important, message: Warning Signs For Ministry Leaders. This message gives practical advice of what everyone in leadership should be aware of in their own lives and what they can do to prevent a problem.
Finally, we will conclude the event in your evening service with a message about what the church can do to reach out to those needing mental health ministry. I will talk about the vital role that the church plays, the growing need, and some practical things that any church can do to help.
I encourage you to use people in your congregation for music and testimonies!
I do not have a required fee. Instead I ask that your church take up a love offering and allow me to set up a book table for the event.
Please contact me, to schedule this event right away! Email me or call me at 417-501-4975
I look forward to working with you!
Recently, I was having a conversation with my psychiatric nurse practitioner. She is the person that manages my medication. I have been taking Effexor, Remeron, Buspar, and Klonopin for a little while now.
She asked me, “Are you having more good days than bad?”
I was not really that sure how to answer that question. Depression has been a part of me for so long, that I got in the habit of thinking of things in terms of bad and not so bad. When she asked me this, I thought for a minute about all the work I have been doing to get a handle on things and reframing thoughts. I replied, “I tend to think of it in terms of having manageable days and bad days.”
She looked concerned and then made a plan to get me off of Effexor (you have to wean off that one) and try Lexapro.
It took me by surprise to think that the goal is to have more good days than bad.
To most people, that last sentence might be shocking. I suspect that those with Major Depressive Disorder know what I am talking about.
I think the surprise for me was that I have worked so hard to overcome depression. That is, to not be controlled by it. Yet the goal is even greater. The goal is not to simply not be depressed, but to be happy.
Hope is powerful. Studies have shown that hope is more motivating than fear. When people can see radical, positive change, they accept change much better than when they are just told "do this or something bad will happen." In other words, go ahead and set those goals high. Thrive on hope!
Of course, a depressed mind does not like to hope. My counselor reminds me that when I have the bad days, it is important to take some time to remember the small things that show progress: I did something I needed to do today, I took a walk, I made it through the day. Those little things remind us that we are moving in the right direction. If you can just take one step in the right direction then you have every reason to keep on hoping.
Recovery is not an event, it's a journey. Keep moving forward!
How are you moving forward? Share your story here!
Aaron Davis is the author of the novel "Street Preacher" and the upcoming memoir, "Baggage Claim: One Minister's Journey Through Depression to Peace." If you would like to invite him to speak to your church or organization, click here.
Several years ago, I was on staff at a church as the youth pastor. Conflict developed between the senior pastor and me and it made my life miserable. Eventually, I was fired without even being told the reason. I was cut off from our church and the friends I had there. I was hurt. I had been lied to and lied about. The worst of it was that there seemed to be no way to fix it.
Anger consumed me.
At the time, someone told me about “car prayers.” Think of the car this person drives, they suggested. Then, every time you see a car like that, pray for them. Pray that the Lord blesses them.
The pastor of the church that fired me drove a white Ford Exhibition. I determined to pray for him every time I saw one of those on the road. Suddenly, I saw a bunch of white Ford Exhibitions!
Eventually, the more I prayed, the more my anger subsided. It no longer mattered wether or not I was ever proven right or the pastor ever got what was coming to him. In fact, the more I prayed, the more I saw my own faults and was able to become a better minister.
Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:43-45a, ESV)
Love for your enemies is not natural. It it not natural to want the best for someone that has hurt you. It requires supernatural intervention. We can love others when we are secure in our identity as sons and daughters of God (fellow heirs with Jesus in the spirit of adoption). From that security, we can begin to see others the way Jesus sees them. We see them as loved and forgiven, just as we are loved and forgiven. This is why when Jesus tells us to love our enemies, he then tells us to pray for them. We can pray even when we don’t love and in doing so, we invite the Holy Spirit to intervene.
Are you harboring a grudge against someone? Has someone hurt you and you find it impossible to let it go? Start with some “car prayers” and see what the Lord can do!
Have you found that praying for someone makes it easier to forgive them? Share your story here!
Aaron Davis is the author of the novel Street Preacher and of the upcoming memoir, Baggage Claim: One Minister's Journey Through Depression to Peace. For information on inviting Aaron to speak to your church or organization, click here.
Last fall, I announced that I was embarking on something I called, "The Baggage Claim Project." I promised to do three things:
First, I am happy to announce that not only have I written the book, but it has been accepted by a publisher! We are in the editing stages now and are planning for a July release!
In fact, take a look at the line up of upcoming releases from 50/50 Press!
Second, last month I completed the process of becoming a certified speaker and coach with the John Maxwell Team. This has been an incredible experience that has taught me a lot, preparing me to tell this story!
Now it is time to start telling this story!
Here is where you come in! I am looking for churches, ministries, civic groups, etc where I can tell this story. Every time I tell my story, I hear back from someone that has begun to get the help they need because of what I said. Please talk to your pastor or your organization's leadership about having me in to share! Contact me here! You can learn more about my public speaking gigs here.
Aaron Davis is an author, speaker, and life coach. He currently lives in Springfield, MO with his wife and their two sons. He also serves as a hospice chaplain.