You’re Not Crazy, Just a Wee Bit Depressed

Thursday is for Spiritual Formation

Ministry Burnout 1On September 12, 2012, Pastor Ray Ortlund, under the title You’re Not Crazy, posted the following open letter to pastors on the Gospel Coalition website. I’ve changed the title and added a postscript.

My brother pastor,

It’s Monday morning.  Yesterday you gave your all.  You’re spent.  You’re depressed.  You’re drinking a lot of coffee.

A friend of mine in campus ministry tells me that when he calls someone new onto his team, he gives them a plaque to hang on the wall of their apartment.  It simply says, “You’re not crazy.”

When the Lord catches us up in his work in the world today, we find ourselves swept away into something more demanding than we ever expected.  Sometimes we are tempted to think, “I must be crazy.  I must be crazy to be living this way, giving myself to this extent, paying this price.  What on earth is happening to my life?”

You’re not crazy.  You’re re-living the story of Jesus.  The Bible says, “He poured out his soul to death” (Isaiah 53:12).  There was no point at which Jesus said, “This isn’t funny any more.  This is becoming too costly.  I must be crazy.  It’s time to put a stop to this.”  He kept saying Yes to the will of God, pouring out his soul, moment by moment, all the way, even to death.  And he wasn’t crazy.  “Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied” (Isaiah 53:11).

Re-living the story of Jesus is the only sane way to live, because God is there, with every promise he ever made, freely given to us through the finished work of Christ on the cross.

Yes, take time off.  Jog.  Nap.  Enjoy a hobby.  Laugh a lot.  Still, the advance of the gospel will cost every one of us dearly.  But we’re not crazy.  The promises of God are all over us.  Let’s believe that and relax and see it through, all the way.

Have a good day.

Your brother,


Somedays you will need such advice more than others. Keep serving the saints. Keep feeding the flock, even after they bite you. Sometimes sheep do that. Just remember that it is not them you serve. You serve Christ in them. See them as Christ. See them as an opportunity to serve Christ. Offer every effort to Him and He will not let your founded-upon-His-word-work be wasted. It’s why Paul wrote these words:

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”  (1 Corinthians 15:58)

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