I often experience what I hesitantly call “spiritual bipolar.” This happens when I go from being totally in love with the ministry to totally doubting my calling to the ministry. Certainly, there are highs and lows in all of life, but the ministry seems to bring out the extreme highs and the extreme lows. As a local church pastor, I can literally go (sometimes in the course of a single day) from laughing with a church member at a party to weeping with a church member at a funeral. One moment I can go from celebrating God’s goodness and grace in people being saved, baptized, and added to the church to being totally bewildered by people rebelling, sinning, or walking away from the safety and accountability of the local church. The highs are exhilarating and the lows are downright debilitating. Going from extreme highs to valley lows is simply exhausting. “Spiritual bipolar” is truly a force to be reckoned with.
What about you? Do you ever face the constant bombardment with the highs and lows of the life and ministry that God has given you? Perhaps you’re feeling “spiritual bipolar” in the realm of your marriage, or parenting, or the business that God has given you? Do you ever experience days of pure joy and surety over your calling and then the very next day literally wanting to throw in the towel and be done with it all? I have a funny feeling that all of us, to one degree or another, experience this thing called “spiritual bipolar.”
So, what do we do to overcome this condition? Is there any hope for sinners like us who wrestle with the highs and lows of this life? The answer is “yes”…A resounding, thousand times over, no strings attached, Gospel-cladded “yes!” Here’s what we need to do in both the highs and lows of life and ministry:
- Remember you are human – The Psalmist David phrased it like this in the 103rd Psalm (verse 14), “For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.” How do you like that?! The Psalmist David is essentially saying that you and I, at best, are nothing more than fashionable dirtballs. But in that is good news! How? Well, to recognize that we are but weak, frail humans is humbling, but it frees us from the incessant demands to be always put together, well rested, and self-sufficient. The bottom line is this: we NEED rest, research, relationships, and a constant stream of reassurance. We NEED these things because we are dust; and in order to manage our “spiritual bipolar” we must own who we really are, namely, human.
- Remember God is God – The Psalmist David continues in verses 17 and 19 of Psalm 103 by saying, “BUT [in comparison to us humans] the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children…The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, and His kingdom rules over all.” This is good news! Yes, we are finite creatures, but God is infinite in His being and in His attributes of love, righteousness, and sovereignty. Indeed, God is a King who rules over the entirety of this universe. In other words, there isn’t one speck of dust, or problem in your life and ministry, that is not under the loving sovereignty of King Jesus! If that doesn’t infuse you with spiritual equilibrium to combat “spiritual bipolar”, I don’t know what will.
- Remember the Gospel message – Indeed, you must preach the Gospel to yourself every day. In good moments of life and ministry, preach the Gospel to yourself. In bad moments of life and ministry, preach the Gospel to yourself. Remind yourself of Jesus and His death, burial, and resurrection. Remind yourself of His forgiveness and constant grace. Feel like all your friends have abandoned you? The Gospel has something to say about that. Feel like you just can’t make it another step? The Gospel has something to say about that. Feel like people misunderstand you and take your words out of context? The Gospel has something to say about that. Feel like you are just doing the right thing and everything wrong is happening? The Gospel has something to say about that. Ultimately, “spiritual bipolar” is conquered when we remember and preach the Gospel message to ourselves.
What about you? Is there something specific you do when life and ministry take you on its’ wild rollercoaster? Share with me. I would love to interact with you.