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Does depression disqualify a pastor? Man, that’s a serious and heavy question, and it comes to us from a podcast listener named Kyle. “Hello, Pastor John. At what point, if any, does depression and/or joylessness disqualify an elder? Or when might there be a reason for an elder to step down out of a desire to most wisely serve his congregation?”
Let me begin by affirming that Kyle is right to suggest that there is a point at which joylessness does disqualify an elder. A lot of people don’t think of that. So he’s right to point this out. But we have to be so careful here, because joy is subjective — it’s a subjective reality.
Ways - Degrees - Presence - Finger - Ministry
It’s no less real and no less important because it’s subjective. But it manifests itself in various ways. It manifests itself in degrees of presence, and so putting our finger on it is not easy. So I think we should be slow and careful before we declare anybody unqualified for their ministry because of it.
Let me just point to four things that Kyle and the rest of us should take into consideration as we ponder this.
Leaders - Submit - Watch - Souls - Account
Hebrews 13:17 says, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy” — so let your leaders, your pastor and elders, lead with joy — “and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”
In other words, a chronically joyless pastor is of no advantage, no benefit, to his people, which means there comes a point when, for the sake of the people, he should step down or step back.
Kyle - Thank
This is just to say, Kyle, thank you for taking this seriously. Hebrews 13:17 says so.
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The beatings will continue until moral improves.