I'm not going to say a lot here.
Other than to share that I suffer with pretty bad depression and anxiety.
I have led worship for many years and know that God has annointed me to lead others into his presence and to push creative boundaries within worship at the same time as not alienating the congregation. I have a pastors heart so I try and balance taking new ground with making sure the body of Christ that I am part of is not left behind confused and frustrated.
I also work with men and women recovering from addiction to substances and alcohol. Pretty full on I guess.
However, the truth is that I get to the point where I get totally overloaded, stop processing what I am feeling and grind to a complete stop. I end up good for nothing and stop functioning as a husband, dad, colleague, worship leader etc
I am on various medications to try and help me lift my head above the waves, this frustrates me but I am also pragmatic enough to recognise that whilst medication is not the cure, it can help me get back on my feet so I can work out what has gone wrong etc
The reason I am posting this is not to wallow in pity or even to fish for comforting comments. Neither of this I want or need. I am more interested in seeing if any of you have had or are having similar experiences to me. I know King David was a pretty emotional bloke how loved God, loved creating, made a ton of mistakes but has influenced dramatically the was God's people express there worship to God but also express their emotions to him as well.
My Point is that I reckon those of us who are both creative and are on the front line of leading the body of Christ in worship and praise are probably susceptible to the kind of experineces I am talking about...
What is your story...????
Andrew - this is quite a difficult topic for many of us who have had depression to talk about. Not that it shouldn't be discussed, but sometimes it's not easy to be as open as you have and sometimes the situations we find ourselves in prevent easy discussion of it.
Just to say really that you've not been ignored and this is also not 'off limits', but it may take a while before some are ready to discuss this. But good man, not hiding away about your own issues.
Thank you Toni
I did not feel ignored.
I am just beginning to lift out of another bad episode of depression having been totally wiped out by it for the past 2 months.
I have no problem admitting my weaknesses and challenges in life. If this can be a catalyst to a deep connection emotionally with other worship leaders and musicians and an honest support of each other then it somehow helps make sense of the pain and feelings of failure and weakness that I am tempted to go under.
I have had similar experiences. Sometimes medication helps, sometimes it just puts my head in a fog. It tends to come and go; seems interpersonal conflict in the church makes it worse, like I have a "glass mind" that shatters at a cruel comment, so I can relate to David and his struggles.
When I am feeling bad, it helps to know that doing worship music is a ministry to the Lord and to others...
Thank you Bet
As I have just responded to Toni I am only just coming out of one of my lows. Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability I genuinely appreciate and admire it.
My reflections on the skills that God uses within worship leaders has let me to have a few thoughts on the matter.
Part of being a worship leader is to be able to connect with God, but also to connect emotionally with the congregation. The ability to empathise,understand,connect with the congration enables the worship leader to somehow guide the congregation from that place into a deep connection with God.
For instance, if the congregation is nervy, downcast, struggling to relax into the the time of worship, I believe a good worship leader would not reprimand the congregation and whip them into a frenzy of joyful praise (a lesson I learned early on by making this mistake), rather the worship leader can sensitively allow the congregation to reflect on God's goodness, that he accepts and loves us no matter how we are feeling etc, and build towards a time of praise and joyful exuberance if indeed it is appropriate that week to get there. In fact it would probably need to end up reflection on what Jesus accomplished at the cross so we could be free.
Interestingly I led worship last year for a weekend when Jackie Pullinger fro Hong Kong came and spent the weekend with us as a church. I won't go into a long explanation here but it was certainly challenging, but it also radically changed me and the way I lead worship. For her, every chirstian worship time has to get to the cross and what was accomplished at the cross for it to be what she called and authentic christian time of worship. interesting...
My point is that as worship leaders I believe God has put in many of us an intense ability to 'Feel'. I know for me this has assisted my gift, but the downside is that I easily feel 'overwhelmed' and shut down.
The first time I noticed this was when I first joined the worship team when I was 12 years old. I played violin at that point. There were services where I would end up in tears and emotional agony, and the only way I could express it at the time was this deep sense of sadness and hardness that I had picked up emotionally from the congregation. It was really hard to know what to do with it.
I am still learning how to handle it making many mistakes on the way
Andrew, I don't have depression and I'm no psychiatrist, but I feel I need to say this.
All worship leaders not only have to connect with the Holy Spirit, but in worship of God we take the devil face-on. Lucifer was worship leader in heaven before his fall and he's not happy with what we're doing, he understands the effect of true worship on worshippers. I believe worship leadership is really dangerous, because we can easily be tempted into thinking that we are great (as Lucifer did). To strive for the "adoration" we get from the congregation (and the "downer" if we don't get this). We start serving the people and not God. Lucifer would love to disrupt our worship with all kinds of distractions. This fight we can't take on in our own power, we'll lose!
I believe you are involved in a spiritual battle - not a carnal one - because you are worshipping! I suggest you fight it with prayer, and ask your team to pray with you for the protection that ALL of us need. Of course, medication might prove a short-term solution, I don't want to make any suggestions that you change anything there before you're ready, but understand the underlying issue is an attack that you can win only in Jesus' name.
Worship is all about God, not the people - I see worship as a simple concert that I lead for God and that I would like to see Him smile on, like any father would when he watches his child perform a concert for him - especially if the father knows his child's heart. And frankly, if God is happy with the worship, what the congregation thinks/feels doesn't seem to matter to me anymore. I firmly believe that when we do things that are right for God, the majority of people won't like it. The road to God is after all small and narrow, and few find it - not the majority. Some famous pastor responded to a congregation member saying he didn't enjoy the worship with "Good, it wasn't intended for you anyway".
I bless you and your ministry in the name of God, may God's face shine upon you, and Jesus take on your battle for you. He wins. Believe it.
Interesting comment about JP. Worth remembering that different people have different things that they feel 'validate' worship, some of which may be mutually exclusive. If you're sensitive to the Holy Spirit then many times you'll hear where He's taking things and be obedient: as far as I can see, validating worship isn't about ticking specific boxes but heart attitude.
One doesn't have to be prone to depression to feel heavy and down given what you've described...
Thank you for sharing...
I really appreciate you sharing your experiences. I can really relate! I've been involved with worship for 9 yrs and have led for 3. In addition, I've worked as an ICU nurse for 13 constantly dealing with people in crisis. I totally understand what you mean when you talk about being overloaded. I recently stepped down from my leadership role in the church and changed jobs as well. The sense of relief that I experienced as a result of these changes was unexpected to say the least. This is not in any way to encourage you to do either of these but it caused me to do some self-examination.
I realized I’m an emotional sponge. When I took a step back and analyzed what was going on I realized that I immediately (and unconsciously) take on the emotions of the person or persons I’m around. For me it hasn't been healthy. Since moving away a little I've been able to see that it’s OK to cue into these emotions but I don’t have to internalize them.
I also think that when we are able to really delve into the heights and depths of the range of emotions there’s a potential to feel more pain. There is also the constant bombardment of emotionally demanding situations that almost causes a system overload or short circuit. When that initial stress response occurs in our bodies there is a numbing effect that occurs that allows us to push through what would otherwise be unbearable. I have to wonder if our threshold doesn’t get re-set and that numbness that occurs with depression isn’t allowed to take over.
I’m glad that you are coming back up out of the valley. I know how hard it can be. After I had my children I had terrible post-partum depression. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Please continue to reach out. Continue to communicate and allow others in. It will help you stay afloat. I almost drowned.
Thank you for sharing you journey. God Bless!
Hey Andrew, I have also had some depression in the past, and there is nothing wrong with getting some medication if it helps. I also know that Satan will do everything possible to disrupt true worship because he knows how powerful it is. God created music to worship and honor him, for His and our enjoyment, and to encourage us and help us to focus on Him. Heaven is full of music!
Often when I get home from church I am really tired and drained from putting forth so much effort. I love being involved in the music ministry but it is also hard work because I want to do the very best I can with the Holy Spirit's help. I have learned that I have to pace myself and take breaks. This keeps me from getting burned out and overloaded. My only suggestion is to take a Sunday off when possible to give you time to refresh, recharge, and refocus. Sometimes if I just keep playing and practicing every week, sometimes it becomes a blur.
Thanks for sharing with us.
I was just discussing with my wife feelings of depression. My reading has gravitated toward that present state of my spirit. The following two excerpts are not to offer easy answers, but to share a couple of things God plopped into my quiet time that may be worth our contemplation.
From: Packiam, Glenn. “Secondhand Jesus.” David C Cook -- Check out this book on the iBookstore: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/secondhand-jesus/id513436068?mt=11 :
"The larger problem is that we have selective listening and learning when it comes to God’s Word. We memorize Psalm 23 because of its promise that we “shall not want,” while we ignore Psalm 22 and its fist-against-the-ground-you-never-hear-me-when-I-pray complaints. Both are written by David, and, for crying out loud, they’re side by side. We want to believe in the God who always leads us to still waters and never in the God who seems to have forsaken us. We want the God of green pastures and not the one who is silent in our suffering. But He is both. And until we accept Him as God of both we haven’t accepted Him as God at all. We have only been following a genie, a doting godfather in the sky who whimsically dispenses goodies to some of His kids while ignoring others for no rhyme or reason.
I cannot answer why some suffer while others do not. I understand that the dynamics of free will and a fallen world play some role. But still, why God intervenes some times and chooses not to at others is a mystery. I believe that, in the end, redemption—God’s ability to take what was lost or messed up and make it work for our good and His glory—is more powerful than prevention or intervention. I believe that future glory far outweighs momentary afflictions. But why the momentary afflictions, why the trouble in this world that is allowed to persist? God only knows. And that is the point: There are some things only God knows and understands. To deny as much is to have reduced God into our image.
God is not a Coke machine. He resists formulas and equations, even the ones He apparently gave. To fully get this picture of a wildly personal, living God, you cannot just read Deuteronomy 28; you have to also wrestle with the psalmists, lament with Jeremiah, protest with Jonah, and weep with the Son of God Himself. To string together our favorite list of verses containing “God’s promises for the blessed life” is like living in voluntary ignorance"
... and this:
"I don’t want to portray something about Jesus in me that’s not true. I want to be human. I want to be a man. I don’t want to paint this glorious gospel that was painted to me as a child. I learned a long time ago, I don’t have to protect God’s reputation. God is God. My responsibility is to be honest about my relationship with Him and present a gospel that’s honest." -- Russ Taff
And now, if he could teach his children one important thing, he says, it would be that "...life is hard. Life is failure. Life is success. Life is trying. Life is never giving up. Life is forgiving yourself. Life is for getting up and going on and getting better. You just keep working, you don’t quit. When you are disillusioned, look through the bottom of it, find the truth and keep going."
"I learned early on that people wanted to see a certain thing. And I knew down in my heart that I wasn't - so I hid. I knew what I wanted to be, but I had a whole lot of growing to do and it required a whole lot of pain. And it seemed life had some pretty hard blows. And I was faced with some situations that absolutely cut my legs out from under me - to the point that you're wondering if the thing you're singing about is even real. and you find yourself totally alone, because you're afraid to let anybody in -- and then comes depression. You choose ways to deal with depression a lot of times that aren't healthy. And it causes you to make decisions that you shouldn't make. Then you find yourself sliding and loosing hold of the thing that brought you there - and that's the power of Jesus... There have been several times in my life when I was abut to go under and friends stepped in. But more than all of that, I found the real Jesus. I found the one that understands and forgives." - Russ Taff interview with Bill Gaither