Consider these recent events and how they might affect your ministry.
The Example of Edith
On Easter Sunday Edith Schaeffer—a woman best known for the L'Abri Fellowship in Switzerland she founded with her husband, Francis—died at the age of 98. She wrote more than a dozen books, on topics ranging from biblical womanhood to children and family life to human suffering to music and art. As the wife of a famous husband, she had her own voice and platform for promoting her causes.
She valued beauty and fashion, wearing pearls and Chanel No. 5 unapologetically as she championed the arts at a time when many evangelicals did not take them seriously: "A Christian, above all people, should live artistically, aesthetically, and creatively," she wrote in The Art of Life. "If we have been created in the image of an Artist, then we should look for expressions of artistry, and be sensitive to beauty, responsive to what has been created for our appreciation."
As the Her.meneutics tribute notes, she was not the perfect model of a female leader, as her son's books claim she put up with years of abuse and concerned herself with maintaining an outward image of perfection. Her life is a testament to the reality that even imperfect leaders can impact the Kingdom when they consistently point back to a merciful, forgiving, overcoming, loving God.
Depression in the Church
When news of Matthew Warren's suicide hit, reactions ranged from sorrow and sympathy to shock–though both Rick and Kay Warren had spoken of their son's depression in the past, few outside the church seemed aware of the reality of their situation before tragedy struck. Depression and other mental illnesses impact more than a quarter of all Americans each year and certainly are a pressing issue for people in your ministry, either directly or indirectly as loved ones of people who suffer from them.
Continued silence on depression and mental illness in the church will only hurt more people, as ignorance reinforces stigmatization. As a leader, it's your responsibility to open up conversations that help people understand, love, and support their suffering brothers and sisters. Check out this download from the Gifted for Leadership store and this download from our sister site Building Church Leaders. Both will provide an overview of what it means to minister to people in the context of mental illness.
Another lesson from this tragedy? Because Rick Warren is such a public figure, many people felt the need to chime in on what happened and what might have led the son of a prominent public evangelical to take his own life, even in some cases celebrating his pain as a judgment for his views on same-sex marriage. In response Warren tweeted: "Grieving is hard. Grieving as public figures, harder. Grieving while haters celebrate your pain, hardest. Your notes sustained us."