What is wrong with me?

Almost after every time I preach, the next day or so, I feel so ... off. I battle depressive thoughts like "am I really supposed to be a pastor?", "that wasn't a good sermon or a good word." or even "maybe I should give up, this is too much."

What is worse is I am not even a full fledged Pastor yet. I am going to college along with working full time and raising and caring for a family. I have the opportunity to preach every so often and I cannot imagine doing anything else in life. I know I have been called to do this and yet these thoughts are very real. I desire to see break throughs when I preach but have never seen it happen. I know God's Word will not return void and I know that it is He who does the work but I still desire very much to see fruit from my labor. Sometimes I feel like I am all alone. I know that God is always with me but aside from that, I feel alone. I feel like no one knows what I feel or even gives it a second thought. I feel like I need encouragement from my Pastor and/or people of leadership who know me but I receive none. It hurts because this contributes to the alone feeling.

I can't be suffering from burnout. I just can't. I haven't even started yet. What does it say of me if this is the case? It makes me doubt the calling I have on my life but I refuse to accept that as truth. There is nothing else in this entire world that I would rather do than preach God's Word.

Comments for What is wrong with me?

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Depression
by: AB

Hello,
I was empathetic to your post. As a woman I'm not a pastor, but often am asked to teach women's studies or share testimonies/evangelism stories publicly.
Without fail I am hit with a dark cloud of depression after each public speaking or teaching engagement.
There is a great book called Spurgeon's Sorrows that was so very encouraging. I'd recommend it to any pastor or any person dealing with depression in the ministry.
Thanks for your bravery and may the Lord keep encouraging all you pastors.
A

I Understand
by: Bro. Jeff

I've been a pastor seven years and still battle feeling low after preaching. It helps to get feedback from my wife because usually I learn that I'm overreacting. Remind yourself that you are a mere human being trying to live faithfully into a difficult calling. Recite to yourself an uplifting quote or bible verse after preaching. Here's one I use..."What a privilege we have been given by God to be able to spend our lives giving His love away." - Roy Lessin

Here is a FIX
by: Anonymous

I had similar issues when I first started. The key that turned it all around is I stopped preaching to the people and started preaching to myself. When I first started, I would preach to a few of the people in the room. I'm not sure why I stopped but I started to preaching to my younger self instead. The result was immediate.

I also had a tendency to ask the elders what they thought of the sermon. I simultaneously ended that because I was no longer preaching to the people in the room. After all a lot of the issues I had as a younger man others also have.

If you preach to yourself especially a message of encouragement you will feel full when you are finished just as most of the congregation does. And if somebody comes up to and tells you how great the message was acknowledge the compliment but don't put any weight in it. Trust that God is leading you.

That makes sense
by: Pastor Adam

I am a 16yr associate pastor in a large growing church. I experience post-preaching depression too. It lasts from 2-24hrs depending on how tired I am. I resonate with the comments and suggestions here. I like best the Marathon analogy and the caution of ego. Even as I write this I am laying down facing the decompression after today's message.

Take heart and heed the comments in this post, even ones that might seem discouraging. There's some meat on those bones too.
-adam

Be strong and do it
by: Anonymous

Thank you for posting this! I have just preached a sermon and felt so awful inside but have been encouraged after reading your post. God's word shall never return unto him void. Sometimes the ground is tough. Sowing in / on tough ground is not easy. The reaping part is lovely but the sowing and toiling is the hard part. Keep sowing the Word of God. It's not always easy but God reminds us that we must 'Be strong and do it'. God bless you.

Thanks for
by: Anonymous

Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. I am a woman in ministry and have experienced the same thing. I have been trying to understand why this was happening and yes, I felt alone; as though no one else could identify with this or understand. Your post has actually offered encouragement. Continue to walk in your calling.

So Normal
by: responding in Christ

Just some thoughts: Being called to the ministry for most is not a bolt of lightening but lived into gradually. Get yourself a pastor/mentor that can come along side you to listen and be a support as you discern your call. If you are in seminary they should have assigned one to you; if not ask. Experienced pastors can be a great support while your are receiving your education in ministry. Preaching is spiritually draining; After preaching on Sunday I head home, eat lunch and crash I am so drained. Take a day a week away from anything to do with the church. This is called "taking care of yourself" and no it is not selfish. Spend time with your family on that day and do not take any calls from the chucrh. Have a contact person that knows it is your day off and will call you only in case of emergencies. Oh, and one more thing while you are on this journey, GO PREACH!

You are Normal
by: Anonymous

Preaching is a head rush brother. Realize you are up there and everyone is looking to you for the answers. Then there are a certain amount of people who are analyzing every word you say to see if you make a mistake. Why wouldn't your palms be sweating or your stomach upset? This is just my opinion, but "preaching" is a set up. It's a set up for you and your congregation. There is this whole belief that the Holy Spirit suddenly comes upon you and makes you some kind of Bible Answer Man who is completely infallible and super powerful. Remember, you are just a guy who puts his pants on one leg at a time. You are just up there "telling the story" as the old hymn says. You are probably way over thinking your time in the pulpit. You say, "all I want to do is preach" and brother, that is not healthy. It just isn't. Try and round out your life with other occupations. Go work in a cafe. Wait on tables. Make coffee. Serve salads and sandwiches. Go make some pizza. There is more to life than "preaching' and you may just be a bit of an adrenalin junkie cause preaching has the same effect on the preacher as getting high. Then you come down from that high. Preaching is intoxicating to the preacher and the congregation. You may have a type of addiction personality. And an ego that is over inflated. I have seen this over and over. It never ends well. think about preaching part time somewhere and do yourself a favor and pick another profession that isn't so heady or adrenaline rushed. If you stick with the pastorate you will so burn out. It looks like you are well on your way to it already. I spent 25 years doing this and I have health problems. Depression plagued me my entire ministry. I wish I had practiced medicine or the law. I really do. you are young so make the change now. that is just my $.02

Real Feelings
by: Anonymous

First of all know that you are not alone in your feelings brother, many of us struggle with depression after we preach.The reality is that we are so keyed up, excited, and filled with the Holy Spirit when we step up to the pulpit, we cannot help but head down from there.Keep pressing in and trusting the Lord and remember your not preaching to the people, you are preaching from the Lord.
Hope this encourages you!

You're Normal
by: Anonymous

The feelings you experience are the same ones I consistently experienced during my eleven years as a pastor. I recently resigned my position and I am developing a ministry to help ministers who are dealing with ministry burnout. Unfortunately I know all about burnout all too well.

Ministry is one of the most difficult careers. Some may not acknowledge that but I believe it to be true. Thank you for your service to the Lord.

Depletion is God's Canvass
by: Rev.Dr.Karl Galik

Two words, "No kidding." (Really, "no kidding.")

First, consider the marathon runner. Ask him/her to get up the next day chipper and ready for another race and you'll likely not want to stand too close. Sincere preaching pours out of you like a drink offering. At least for a short while, it's not only normal, but anticipated.

Secondly, consider the novice downhill skier. It takes 10x the energy to learn to ski than it does to "swoosh" down a green slope 2 seasons later. Early on in any learning process there is the need for increased start-up energy. You will learn efficiencies that allow for focused productive effort that takes far less energy.

Lastly, consider God's established rhythms. Engage. Disengage. Repeat. I'm willing to bet you are light in the "disengage" department. More than getting some rest, disengagement involves participation in a renewing activity (biking, scrapbooking, javelin toss, whatever) that brings a smile to your face and satisfaction to your soul.

"The Love Paradox: Lead Others by Loving Your Self" is a book I believe you'll love for all of the above reasons and more! You'll want to learn these lesson early!

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