Building a support network

Take a moment to reflect on your current support system.

Derek Morris is editor of Ministry Magazine. 

"I think you’re depressed,” my wife gently confronted me.

“I don’t get depressed,” I retorted, quickly and defensively.

My wife responded by patiently listing the symptoms of depression that she had witnessed since my health problems began. Several months earlier, I had discovered bull’s-eye lesions on my body. After several visits to the dermatologist and too many biopsies, I still didn’t have an accurate diagnosis. I was getting sick and tired of being sick and tired. And now I got an unsolicited comment from my wife about depression! After some moments of quiet reflection.  I had to admit that she was right. I was depressed. It would have been easy to minimize my problem by asserting that my depression was not that serious, but the stressors in my life were clearly pushing me in an unhealthy direction.

We all have times in life and ministry when we face intense physical, emotional, or spiritual challenges. During those difficult times it is particularly important to have a healthy support network.

This valuable network will not create itself and is not handed to you with your first paycheck. You need to take responsibility to build your own support system. Don’t wait until the storm breaks. Now is the time to recognize the value of such a group and act upon it.

What are some important points to consider when intentionally assembling a network of caring colleagues?

• Look for individuals who honor God in their personal and professional lives.

• Select group members whom you care about personally and who are not in a supervisory or supervised relationship with you.

• Avoid those who are unable to maintain confidence.

• Choose participants who are firm in their commitment to meet regularly.

Begin with the commitment to become the helpful and caring colleague you are seeking for yourself. The rule of Jesus applies here as in every other area of life: “‘Treat others the same way you want them to treat you’ ” (Luke 6:31, NASB).

Take a moment to reflect on your current support system. Does it exist? How well does it function? What changes should be made in order to make the network more effective? Have you applied the rule of Jesus to your conduct within the group? What are some ways you can affirm and nurture your valued colleagues who have covenanted to meet with you on a regular basis?

I vividly remember the day when a trusted member of my support network asked me, “How are things going between you and the Lord?” No one had ever posed that question to me before. I was both startled and blessed. Colleagues should be granted permission to move beyond superficial conversation and ask pointed questions. Since there is a commitment both to follow the rule of Jesus and also to maintain complete confidentiality, participants are free to answer any question candidly.

We should also be free to speak about our successes and failures, our joys and sorrows, since we can learn valuable lessons from the ups and downs of life and ministry. Recently, I heard a tragic story of a young pastor who got involved in an adulterous relationship. When his infidelity was exposed, he sank into a deep depression and eventually took his own life. Many families in the church were devastated, including his own. Would a support group have helped him to avoid such a tragedy? No one knows for sure. But what if a trusted friend had challenged him when he started to act in inappropriate ways? What if a caring colleague had taken the risk of sending up a warning flare?

Our lead article in this issue of Ministry addresses the challenge of ministering to hurting people. Losses in life lead to grief and may result in clinical depression. We need to be sensitive to the needs of others, and we must also be alert and honest with ourselves, recognizing our own needs. That’s where a healthy support system is so valuable.

The wise man, Solomon, reminds us that “though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Eccles. 4:12, NKJV). That is particularly true when two or three are seeking the will of God together and praying for guidance and direction. “‘For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them’” (Matt. 18:20, NKJV).

I’m thankful today for a loving and committed support network. It’s my prayer for you to have the same experience.

Advertisement - Ministry in Motion 300x250

Ministry reserves the right to approve, disapprove, and delete comments at our discretion and will not be able to respond to inquiries about these comments. Please ensure that your words are respectful, courteous, and relevant.

comments powered by Disqus

Derek Morris is editor of Ministry Magazine. 

May 2015

Download PDF
Ministry Cover

More Articles In This Issue

Clinical depression or “life sorrows”? Distinguishing between grief and depression in pastoral care 1

How does the pastoral counselor distinguish ordinary grief from clinical depression?

Feeding Five or Five Thousand 1

The author looks at Jesus as a “splendid communicator.”

Adventist theology and the new anthropology: Challenges and opportunities

What does the process of dehellenization do to theology and how does it relate to Adventist theology?

“Holy” gossiping: Reflections on how the psalms view the misuse of the tongue

Raising awareness about the misuse of the tongue and seeking to prevent and solve its terrible consequences becomes an imperative for every person who serves the God of peace and truth.

Revive in Us Your Work

From our continuing revival and reformation series.

Balancing a Busy Life

Listed in this article are seven tips to help facilitate the pastoral process of finding balance.

The way of a Christian leader

Learn about various aspects of leadership in light of Jesus’ downward mobility.

Taking time to be attentive

From the revival and reformation series.

Dwindling Evidence for the Moderate Use of Alcohol

From the monthly pastor and health feature.

View All Issue Contents

Digital delivery

If you're a print subscriber, we'll complement your print copy of Ministry with an electronic version.

Sign up
Advertisement - Southern Adv Univ 180x150 - Animated

Recent issues

See All
Advertisement - Digital Discipleship (160x600)