Confessions of a Missionary: I Have Bad Days

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Last Sunday was actually a great day for me….encouraging Church services, awesome fellowship, afternoon nap (of course), and even got to take a friend out for lunch. Thats why it was so surprising when I got really depressed on the way home that night. By using the word depression I’m not referring to clinical depression that can only be helped with prescription medication, but the mild depression that almost all of us experience form time to time because of stress.

After thinking about it a week later I can see this came from being asked about my Visa Situation by friends (who truly cared about me) and giving the bad news that it won’t be till next summer. While I appreciate the concern of loved ones for my ministry Satan can use the delayed Visa to bring discouragement.

Mild depression is a part of life for all of us, but this is a special challenge for me because I have been created as an incredibly emotional person. This is awesome because it allows me to connect with people through teaching or public speaking, and genuinely care for people in need. However it also means setbacks that are part of God’s plan (like delaying the Visa Process) can lead to strong emotions such as frustration, anger, or depression.

This may come as a shock to some of you since we don’t expect people like Missionaries or Pastors to actually have bad days when they are overwhelmed with emotions like depression. The truth is we experience it MORE than those not called to full time Christian Ministry since the direct attacks of Satan are experienced. The fact that Satan loves using depression to keep us from serving the Lord means bad days should be expected.

With that in mind, I would like to share some ideas on how to deal with those bad days (and how not to deal with them) to help others face they’re depressing experiences.

How Not To Deal With Depression

1. Self-medication with things that make you comfortable like food, or television: I used to respond with a huge bag of french fries, a two-liter of pepsi, and three to four hours of television. The problem with this is you just feel overweight at lazy at the end (the Lost marathon of 2008 comes to mind).

2. Tell People I’m Fine When I’m Not: I jokingly tell people that I’m the kind of person who won’t ask for help if someone has ripped my arm off my own body and beating me with it. While this isn’t necessarily true, asking others to help is something reserved for the worst possible scenario.  Waiting till I am at the end of my strength instead of asking for help adds lots of stress to the situation

How To Deal With Depression

1. Have An Outlet: The Lord has blessed me with wonderful coworkers in Australia who understand the amount of stress experienced by Missionaries, and the depression that can come from those experiences. One many bad days I would send a text message to one of them, and an hour later we would be sitting together at a coffee shop taking about the situation.

2. Understand It Is Normal: Satan loves to tell us on those bad days that we are the only person who ever gets depressed or discouraged, which obviously isn’t true. Understanding that we all go through depression from time to time has been a great encouragement to me as I deal with these specific attacks.

2. Understand It Is Normal: Satan loves to tell us on those bad days that we are the only person who ever gets depressed or discouraged, which obviously isn’t true. Understanding that we all go through depression from time to time has been a great encouragement to me as I deal with these specific attacks.

3. Turn to God: Above all other things the greatest call upon our lives in these situations is to cry out before the Lord about the pain in our hearts. God does hear those cries, and may not answer it in the way we want, but will bring peace and strength in time.

p.s.-french fries and pepsi (in moderation) are always helpful too 🙂

Published by

John Wilburn

Church planter, teacher, and disciple-maker in Barrouallie St. Vincent

2 thoughts on “Confessions of a Missionary: I Have Bad Days”

  1. Thank you for that reminder, John. As a co-laborer in full-time ministry, I can identify with what you are saying. All week builds up to Sunday, then it seems that the enemy attacks full strength almost every Monday. One way that I deal with deep discouragement is to pray to God with 1 rule: Only bring praises before Him… no requests. It forces me to focus my mind on what God is currently doing rather than those few things that are wrong with the world that He is still working on.

  2. I’m a missionary in Mexico and am having a bad day today. Will try some of your tips, maybe even the fries!

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