Why Pastors are Less Than Human

[RANT MODE: ON]

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I am increasingly amazed at how pastors are depicted or considered less than human. It seems to me like every week I hear of some story about how pastors don’t have this problem or that problem because they have such a better understanding of the Gospel.

I’m sorry. I don’t buy it. If that offends your piety, too bad. IF you think that is a sign of weak faith, I’ll leave that judgment to Christ and not to you. The fact is that pastors get tired, stressed, burned out, depressed, and everything else that flows from nearly every other vocation. It is a part of our fallenness as human beings. We are not robots. I don’t have some secret gnosis or special insight into the Gospel that insulates me from the world. Far from me. In many respects as a pastor, I believe we are more susceptible to the trials and problems of the world. There is an expectation that everyone gets tired, stressed, burned out, bored, or whatever with work. We all go through it from time to time. But not pastors. Pastors don’t go through these things, because they have Jesus (and the rest of the baptized don’t?).

Fortunately, Christ uses our weakness even more than he uses our strengths. I can get tired, stressed, depressed. It’s okay. Christ is with me, forgives me, and draws me into himself.

[RANT MODE: OFF]

-DMR

Who would have thought exercise helped?

This is no great revelation to me, but it is worth highlighting. Exercise releases lots of good endorphins and other “stuff” to help improve mood and disposition across the board.

Check it out.

Now if I could only get myself to act on this knowledge…

-DMR

Improving Mood And Serious Mental Illness With Physical Activity: ”
 
A new study from Indiana University suggests that even meager levels of physical activity can improve the mood of people with serious mental illnesses (SMI) such as bipolar disorder, major depression and schizophrenia.

The study, published in the November issue of the International Journal of Social Psychiatry, both reinforces earlier findings that people with SMI demonstrate low levels of physical activity…”

Robert Preus on Mental Illness

I don’t generally think of Robert Preus as the source of all knowledge when it comes to mental illness, but I ran across this article recently. It is well done. Very Preusesque, but he really understands the relationship between faith and mental illness. Here’s one citation to pique your interest:

Pastors who suffer stress and affliction, like any Christian in similar circumstances, may be tempted to look to their faith as a reason for self-esteem and assurance, rather than to the only object of faith, Christ and His pardoning Word. They conclude that failure and inability to cope are due to weak faith or the lack of faith altogether. They are viewing faith as their act rather than as their reception of God’s mercy.

Robert D. Preus, “Clergy Mental Health and the Doctrine of Justification,” Concordia Theological Quarterly 48, no. 2 & 3 (1984): 120.

I recommend this little essay very highly. Check it out. I actually think that LCMS World Relief has this online somewhere, but I can’t find it right now. Can anyone help me out?

-DMR

Sorrow Under the Skin

Rev. David Petersen over at Cyberstones has a very nice post about sorrow and mental illness. He is particularly talking about how difficult it is to get into the shoes of another person, to understand their suffering. We all suffer, but each person’s pain and sorrow is their own, and none of us can judge or lay claim to fully understand another person’s trials.

-DMR

Sorrow Under the Skin: “”

Depression and Anger

Occasionally I hear of someone who acts out their depression on other people.  Lashing out.  Anger, either expressed physically or verbally.  I don’t really know much about this kind of manifestation.  Does anyone hear have any experience and/or wisdom they could impart on it and how to deal with it either as the doer or as the loved one?

-DMR

Depression and Anger

Occasionally I hear of someone who acts out their depression on other people.  Lashing out.  Anger, either expressed physically or verbally.  I don’t really know much about this kind of manifestation.  Does anyone hear have any experience and/or wisdom they could impart on it and how to deal with it either as the doer or as the loved one?

-DMR

GOOD NEWS about the book

I just got word that the book is going to be published!  An editor is being assigned, the publisher has taken my financial information so that I can get paid, and we are working on a timeline.

This is very exciting, and I am really looking forward to sharing more about this with you, my gentle readers, as soon as the opportunity presents itself.  There are still hoops, blah blah, but this baby is a go!

Deo Gracias,

-DMR

GOOD NEWS about the book

I just got word that the book is going to be published!  An editor is being assigned, the publisher has taken my financial information so that I can get paid, and we are working on a timeline.

This is very exciting, and I am really looking forward to sharing more about this with you, my gentle readers, as soon as the opportunity presents itself.  There are still hoops, blah blah, but this baby is a go!

Deo Gracias,

-DMR

2009 is going

The year has begun. Happy new year, friends. I pray this is a good one. Personally, I have high hopes for this year. I think my book will get published one way or another, and I hope to move on to other projects related to mental illness/depression and the theology of the cross.

But to start with, I want to enjoy my family this year. That seems a good thing.

Peace,
-DMR