Dependence.

Dependence takes the form of humility, which takes the form of a servant. Humility, and being like a servant, is not thinking little of ourselves, but counting others as more important than us (Romans 12:3; Phil. 2:1-11). Dependence involves being honest before God, honest with ourselves, and honest with others.

How can we cultivate humility and daily dependence? John Stott gives some solid advice:

Thank God, often and always…. Thank God, carefully and wonderfully for your continuing privileges. . . . Thankfulness is a soil in which pride does not easily grow.

Take care about the confession of your sins. Be sure to criticize yourself in God’s presence: that is your self-examination. Put yourself under the divine criticism: that is your confession. . . .

Be ready to accept humiliations. They can hurt terribly, but they help you to be humble. There can be the bigger humiliations. . . . All these can be so many chances to be a little nearer to our humble and crucified Lord. . . .

Do not worry about status. . . . There is only one status that our Lord bids us to be concerned with, and that is the status of proximity to Himself. . . .

Use your sense of humor. Laugh about things, laugh at the absurdities of life, laugh about yourself, and about your own absurdity. We are all of us infinitesimally small and ludicrous creatures within God’s universe. You have to be serious, but never be solemn, because if you are solemn about anything, there is the risk of becoming solemn about yourself.”

—John Stott, The Radical Disciple: some neglected aspects of our calling, page 106, ch. 7, “Dependence,” quoting Michael Ramsey (former archbishop of Canterbury) in “Divine Humility,” ch. 11 in The Christian Priest Today, rev. ed. (London: SPCK, 1985), pp. 79-91.

 

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My friend is depressed: what should I do? :-(

What do we do when a friend or family member is depressed? I’ve heard too much advice that is “just get over yourself and be happy!” There has to be better advice, right?

As someone who is given to periodic, short bouts of depression — “a normal abnormality” — and a pastor who hopes to effectively and lovingly help others find their joy in Christ, I found this short vodcast helpful. It’s a first-responders guide for those who desire to minister effectively to depressed friends and family members.

David Murray, author of Christians Get Depressed Too gives solid advice on helping others who are depressed:

He gives a more detailed explanation of eight guidelines for dealing with depressed Christians:

  1. Be prepared: anyone can get depressed
  2. Don’t assume depression has been called by personal sin
  3. Check the depth, the width, and the length of the symptoms
  4. Don’t rush to medication, nor rule out medication
  5. Be holistic
  6. Give hope; we can glorify God as we cling to Him in the darkness
  7. Involve family and friends. (Give them 5 R’s: Routine, Relaxation, Recreation, Rest, and Re-prioritizing in their lives.)
  8. Help the depressed person re-prioritize spiritual disciplines. Keep them short and simple; think training more than trying. Point them to the objective truths of Scripture, because honesty is best (character of God, work of Jesus, justification, our security in Christ), and the subjective feelings will follow. Point your friend to Jesus, our sympathetic High Priest who alone can conquer all our fears. He is able and willing to walk with us through every season of life, and He is able to bring us out of our depressed state.

I have not read the two books he recommended, but I have read Murray’s book Christians Get Depressed Too and highly recommend it.

The Apostle Paul has some summary thoughts on dealing with all kinds of people:

And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle [unruly], encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.
—1 Thessalonians 5:14

Notice three categories of people needing care: 1) the unruly, 2) the fainthearted, 3) the weak. They each need a different approach (admonishing, encouraging, helping). We can easily crush a fainthearted person if we unceremoniously admonish them, or can enable an unruly person if we are soft and use kids gloves. This takes grace, wisdom and patience to know how to treat people we are responsible to lead.

Sometimes we can become impatient with others though we wish they would be patient with us. We must not treat every person the same, but we can be patient with all.

Identity: everything grows and flows from there.

Do you focus on your main priorities, or your primary identity?

Kari writes:

How many times have we been asked to do the exercise?

List out your priorities as you want them to be … Of course we’re supposed to put God first, then family second, or wait, maybe we’re supposed to put ourselves first, but then what about our spouse, and then work is a must so where does that fit in? I’ll tell you what:

 

No matter how many times I’ve listed out my priorities it’s never revolutionized my life. 

Here’s what’s revolutionized my life:

 

Understanding that it’s not knowing my primary priority that matters but knowing my primary identity. 

 

We do what we do because we are who we are.

What gave rise to this thought? Galatians 5:25:

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

 

A conclusion:

What if I look at my to-do list with that in mind? Keeping in mind that everything that I do I do as a disciple of Jesus Christ, called to fulfill His great commission and be His ambassador here on earth?

 

No where in Scripture are we called to find balance. Our notion of “finding balance” is cultural. Christ calls us to take our whole life — work, play, service, both sacred and secular — and drench it in the water of His Spirit so that as we move about this world we’re soaking wet, dripping all over the world, spreading the gospel not because we’re handing out tracts but because we’re handing out hope.

 

We’re kind, patient, loving, gentle … our life displays the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-24).

 

What is our identity? Are we citizens of earth or citizens of heaven? Our identity determines how we live. We can walk in step with the world, running to keep up with the passing pleasures of each new year, or we can walk in step with the spirit, knowing that in His presence is fullness of joy.

{Grateful for my wise, gracious wife. Thanks, Kari!}

Photo by See Margaret