Wayne Cordeiro

Calling, burnout, and things we need to remember...

Photo Credit: Pixabay There have been a few times in my life when I have felt overwhelmed, stressed-out, and exhausted. It's easy during times like this to lose focus on what really matters; the people we care about, the things we are passionate about, and our calling in life.

About three years ago I went through a time such as this. It was one of the most difficult times in my life. I was stressed, passionless, making poor choices in regards to my eating habits and overall health. I constantly had a bad attitude, and I was exhausted almost to the point of complete burn-out. (At a later time I will blog more in-depth about the reasons why this happened to me and about some of the symptoms I displayed during that time)...

I am thankful for my wife, my five friends, who are also my mentors & accountability partners (Mike, Mike, Brian, Tony, and Tim), my coworker and good friend Jay, and Shan, who was my boss at the time. I am thankful for them because they listened to the Holy Spirit when I was unable to. They had the courage to speak truth into my life. They spoke words of encouragement, challenged me, provided healing, and direction. I especially want to thank my wife, who stood by me during this time; I was a very difficult person to live with.

Ultimately though it was up to me to take the steps towards healing, health living, and rest. Once I took these steps, my eyes opened to things God had been trying to show me about myself and His desire for me to have a full life. I was told that I had lost focus of the values that were important to me, and I had forgotten my calling.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

When We Lose Focus...

Having the wrong view of our problems and losing sight of our calling can lead to depression, unhealthy habits, and ultimatley poor choices. These things can have adverse affects on us and the people who we have community with.

Wayne Cordeiro states it this way,

"The way we view our problem often times is the problem. If our perception is poor, opportunities become terrifying and invitations appear as threats."

When we are in the midst of our problems, stress, depression, temptation, or exhaustion it is important for us to focus on what God has called us to—Wayne Cordeiro says to remember your divine commission and your high calling.

When I started to try and remember my "divine commision" and my "high calling," I couldn't center or focus my thoughts. I asked myself over and over again this question: What did God call me to? I had trouble answering this. It was difficult for me have clarity with all the familiar noise and sights around me.

I needed to find rest and more importantly I needed to get away. Except I couldn't allow myself to take time off and rest. I felt if I did I wasn't being productive and that I was lazy. I had one of my mentors tell me that rest was not a sin and when I began to truly believe that statement, I found freedom to remove myself from my geographical surroundings and take a break.

I went on a retreat to the Rocky Mountains through an organization called CIY (the retreat I went on is called Wilderness), and my wife sent me away to the Oregon coast for a week to visit my friends Mike and Tony.

It was here that I was able to focus and center my thoughts so I could answer the question: What did God call me to? And when I was able to do this—recovery and healing began to flow into my life.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

My Calling...

I must state here that not everyone's calling is the same and sometimes our calling changes or takes different turns in different seasons of life.

The calling I received when I first became a Christian over twenty-one years ago remains the same calling for me today. I wrote my calling down during my get-a-way to the Oregon coast. It was helpful for me to I list it in seven bullet points.

Seven things about my calling I need to remember:

  • I need to not fear, but have faith.
  • I will be asked to do some difficult tasks for the kingdom of God (My family and I).
  • I will be empowered by the Holy Spirit.
  • Jesus will be with me and go before me.
  • I will preach the good news about Jesus to His people and to those who don't know Him yet (In both, word and action).
  • I will be a servant-leader and shepherd of His church.
  • I will write about Him (Jesus) and about His grace, forgiveness, goodness, and His love.

This is my calling.

There are still moments that I fall into a funk of worthlessness, stress, and exhaustion; usually when I lose my focus on Jesus and His grace in my life, and my calling.

When this happens I ask myself... What did God call me to?

Depression: The Hidden Life

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There is something in ministry that some are beginning to talk about, but yet is still rarely spoken—it's depression.

I'm not just talking about any depression, I'm talking about the depression that invades the heart, soul, mind and body of those who help the depressed, the pastor.

I know all to well the havoc that depression can play on pastors, because I am one who struggles with depression.

I must state this here up front. I am not a psychiatrist, professional counselor or clinical psychologist. I've taken six counseling courses and other seminars, and have 18 years of practice counseling youth, parents, and adults. What I do have that qualifies me to write about this is I struggle with depression and I'm in ministry.

The hidden life is a lonely place to be.

Although it shouldn't be this way. Most of us, who struggle with depression, know all the right answers both from a biblical and secular viewpoint. We've counseled many people through darkness and depression, but find it hard to put into practice for ourselves the tools, wisdom, and advice we recommend to those we counsel - at least I do anyway.

I know this isn't something I should be writing about openly, especially when it's about me...depression-500x707I am a person who struggles with depression. I was one of those people who said it could never happen to me, but what I'm finding out is that it has happened to me several times, but I didn't know I was suffering from it.

I can be what you call a high functioning depressed person.

Most people who know me well and there are very few who do (Some people think they know me, like coworkers, friends, and family), would say that I'm usually an upbeat person and pretty positive most times, except when it is the first thing in the morning.

There are times that I struggle with worthlessness and a dim future because hope escapes me...

When I realized that my struggles were related to depression, I hid it from everyone—my wife, my kids, my supervisor, coworkers, students, and just about everyone else around me.

I felt I was not suppose to struggle with this.

I felt since I am a follower of the Jesus and a pastor I shouldn't be carrying this burden. The Holy Spirit lives in me and should prevent this from happening; I am a member of the clergy and should be immune, because I serve God—right... (A blog post about my thoughts on clergy will come someday).

I knew these rationales weren't true and I became embarrassed. Then it hit me I should know better, none are immune to sin, brokenness, Satan, burnout, and to the things of this decaying and fallen world.

In his book "Leading on Empty" Wayne Cordeiro says,

"Depression is no respecter of persons. The silent "terrorist" attacks those outside the church as well as those within."

In scripture there are many examples of God's people who suffer from depression, Isaiah, Jeremiah, David, Job, Jesus, and others... None of them were rendered useless by God, but used their brokenness to further His kingdom, the gospel, and to His glory.

When I was able to get away and find a safe place and a safe person to confide in, I was able to breakthrough all the embarrassment and the weight of condemnation and guilt. I was able to confess I'm a person who struggles with depression.

For me it was at a Christ In Youth retreat for youth ministers called Wilderness and also with the help from my mentor that week, a guy named Mike (Mike is a 40+ year veteran of youth ministry). I've learned to identify some of the symptoms that tend to happen to me when I'm fighting bouts of depression. I learned to recognize symptoms such as difficulty concentrating, the inability to make decisions, irritability, feeling alone just to name a few.

I am also learning to be more open about it. I'm learning to talk with my wife and be more open about my struggle with depression.

I pray more earnestly during these times, and trust that there is always hope even in the dark times.

Some people will want to downplay my depression and say it's not real, because followers of Jesus don't get depressed. Others will say since I struggle with it, I'm not fit to do ministry. And still some will tell me they understand, but treat me like a leper. To them I say "I will trust God and seek His approval over yours and not care what you think."

But to those who love me, encourage me, and surround me with grace—I say thank you.

And to those who are hurting - Romans 15:13.