When Christian leaders try to figure out reasons why we are feeling angry, depressed or just out of sorts, we usually look outside of ourselves: a difficult spouse, parents or children. A stressful job, a challenging ministry. Yet to deal effectively with our emotions calls for a focus on ourselves, not others. That’s true even when others are being difficult.

You may wish to address these areas in your small group or missional community through a scriptural lens. Below are seven unwise lifestyle choices that contribute to our feelings of anger or depression:

  1. Moral compromise. Morality is more than a code of acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Our morality shows what we believe about the respect and worth of human beings. Immorality brings about a sense of meaninglessness and we ask, “Why am I so frustrated?”  As that frustration builds, we are left with emptiness, shame, and guilt.
  2. Poor health habits. Overeating, smoking, poor exercise, poor hygiene, and lack of sleep are all health habits that can lead to increased emotional unbalance. How you care for yourself is your choice.
  3. Material possessions overemphasized. Yes, even in ministry, where we knew what we were signing up for income-wise. For us, this can take the form of envy or an unhealthy emphasis on financial security or job security.
  4. Work becomes all important. Anger and frustration rise when work and busyness take over too much of your life. This is just as true in ministry as it is in the corporate world: overworked, stressed people are angry.
  5. Compulsive behaviors. Compulsive behaviors include more than just drug or alcohol use. Many behaviors can be engaged in compulsively: shopping, pornography, eating, etc.
  6. Lack of attention to spiritual life. When we maintain a daily relationship with God, problems begin to feel overwhelming and we feel angry, depressed, or abandoned by God.
  7. Social isolation. Ministry leaders, even those actively promoting community from the pulpit, are still some of the most isolated people out there.  If we expect others to take the risk of relationship– allowing someone else to see the real you– we need to be willing take that risk as well.  Without social connectedness, we are increasingly vulnerable to emotional difficulties of all kinds.

As you consider the roots of your emotions, you may ask yourself, “Do I have habits that keep me isolated from God or others?”