Pastor Brad Hoefs

Pastor | Author | Speaker | Hope Coach | Mental Health Advocate

A First Rate Madness: Thinking Outside the Box and Leadership

A First Rate Madness: Thinking Outside the Box and Leadership

So often when people are diagnosed with a mental illness/disorder, they begin to feel “less than” as a contributor to life.  I know that after I was diagnosed and then forced to resign as a pastor of the church I was serving, due to a manic episode, I felt broken to the point of uselessness.  But what I have discovered is that the Lord is in the business of redeeming and reframing our brokenness; He’s in the business of redeeming our pain.  The Lord never wastes pain.  In fact, I believe that it is that point of deep pain that becomes exactly the very thing that the Lord redeems for our good and then that point becomes how He uses us.  It is because of our deepest point of pain we are able to think outside of the box.  We are able to offer compassion and understanding to those who are going through the same sort of pain.

What has surprised me the most about the Lord’s redemption of my pain and past is how He is using my leadership gifts.  I am shocked at how my perspective of and the way that I lead today has changed so much since going through brokenness and pain.  Daily, because of what I have gone through and experienced, I have the opportunity to provide leadership from the point of serving those who are in pain. Before having been broken, I would never have had enough patience to come along side those who are in deep pain.  However, today my point of fulfillment, my “sweet spot” of ministry, is giving hope to those who are some of the darkest places of unimaginable pain.  I consider it a sacred privilege, and I am humbled to see how my pain is redeemed by allowing others to see how He carried me through.  It brings them hope.  When that happens, it is a holy moment that He orchestrated through my very brokenness.

My friend, if you find yourself in a dark and painful point in your journey of this life, please know this: the Lord WILL take this and make it work together for your good.  You are not suffering in vain.  There is purpose in it.  There is a blessing in it.  He is for you.  He loves you.  You are not alone.  As deep as your pain goes, joy will be high when He begins to redeem your pain.  And please know this, you are NOT “less-than“.  You are not broken merchandise.  In fact, it is at your point of brokenness that you become the most usable for His work in your life and in His Kingdom. This is about redemption. The Lord is working things together for your good even in the darkest parts of the valley you are going through.  And in the midst of the suffering and pain, there are gifts – precious gifts – that you can’t even imagine!

But, if you succumb to the feelings of worthlessness and brokenness and the feelings of “less-than” you may never find those gifts; and instead live your life believing the lie that no gifts were given through your pain – that your pain had no purpose at all.  That’s a lie. And it leads to nothing but more pain and hopelessness.  Stand on the Word of God, Romans 8:28, and don’t lean on your feelings.  Feelings are real, but sometimes they are based on a lie.  Here’s the truth:  the Lord is taking and will take ALL THINGS and work them together for your good.  He’s at work.  He’s up to something. He can be trusted. Sometimes you have to simply, by faith, choose to have hope in spite of how you feel.  Yes, hope IS a choice. You have to choose it.  It’s not a wishful-thinking type of hope, but it is a certain and sure hope.  HE WILL, yes, WILL, work out all things together for your good.  That’s a certainty.

One of the books I’ve read that really helped me to see how the Lord could use me in significant ways in spite of and even because of my having bipolar disorder is A First Rate Madness by Dr. Nassir Ghaemi.  It’s a book full of encouragement to see how those 9781594202957_custom-37b18e8c2128957810a8baffd30766d2ed28d0bf-s400-c85who have a mental health challenge can be used even in some of the most significant leadership roles as national and international leaders.  After reading it, I realized even more how the Lord could use my pain and experiences due to bipolar disorder for my good and even use it for the good of others.  See, because of what you and I have been through or even are going through causes us to see things outside of the box.  Dr. Ghaemi goes through a whole list of major historical leaders and illustrates how they were great leaders due to having had a struggle with mental health!  If you have not read the book, get it and read it!  It will encourage you greatly. Check out this NPR post about A First Rate Madness:  “Madness and Leadership, Hand in Hand

It may not feel like it will ever be possible to feel joy again.  You may not even have the energy to believe it. But it’s true.  God is at work.  And He will work it out together for your good, and He will use it to offer hope to others. And as He does that you will be amazed and filled with hope yourself.  This is a certainty – unless you believe the lie that there is no gift or purpose within what you are going through right now. Don’t believe that lie. Take captive your thinking, (Check out the post on how to overcome ruminating: click here.) focus your trust and hope in God and all His promises of good for you.

 

Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.

unnamed

How I Dealt With My Persistent Fears & Anxieties by Stan

How I Dealt With My Persistent Fears & Anxieties by Stan

By

I have struggled with fear, anxiety, and stress for over 20 years.

During this time, I have talked to various professionals in the counseling fields, read many books, and researched many ways on how to overcome my personal fears. Here are some suggestions I can provide for people who struggle with fear and anxiety on a regular basis.

The first thing I did was to talk to various counselors since they knew how to deal with fear and anxiety. Whenever I talked to these counselors, I would always bring a notebook and take notes so I would not forget the advice that was given to me. In addition, I read many books and articles on how to deal with fear and anxiety. Talking to the professionals was very helpful to some extent, however I had to take it upon myself to learn as much as I could so I could effectively deal with my personal fears.

 

By getting help I learned many techniques on how to deal with my fears.

One of my favorite techniques was learning how to manage my negative thoughts. Whenever I would get a negative and fearful thought, I would challenge that thought with positive statements and realistic thinking. I also made it a habit to focus on the facts of my current situation and not on my negative thoughts.

For example, when I went Penn State and I was always afraid that I wouldn’t pass my difficult classes. There were times my fearful thoughts got the best of me especially during finals. These fearful thoughts who race through my head and I would get very anxious. As a result, I began to manage my negative thoughts by reading positive statements from books and newspaper articles. I also gave myself a lot of pep talks before exam time so I would feel better. I also said a lot of prayers which helped me in those situations and I took it one day at a time. It was tough, however I was able to manage my negative thoughts and pass my exams and classes.

 

Learning how to deal with my fears.

As I learned how to deal with my fears, I made it a habit of surrounding myself with supportive people who understood what I was going through. During some of my anxious times, one of my good friends gave me a hard time and was not very supportive. I tried to explain my situation to him, but he would not listen. One day I got mad and told him to leave me alone if he was to continue getting on my case. He later apologized and was more understanding. I learned that hanging out with unsupportive friends or family members made my worrying worse and that it is best to deal with people who willing to support you with your anxieties and fears.

There were many times I felt like giving up because my fears and anxieties were so powerful and I didn’t know what to do. I worried about what would happen and that just made my fears that must stronger. In order to get out of this vicious cycle I realized that I had educate myself on the various techniques on how to deal with my fears. There was no other way and I also had to be very persistent in finding ways that helped my situation. I learned that giving up would only make matters worse in the long run. With a lot of practice I became very good at dealing with my fears. I realized that the answers to my problems were out there, however it was up to me to find those techniques that managed my fears and anxieties. If you struggle with fear and anxiety there is hope.

You can remain hopeful by depending on God to manage your fears and anxieties. Using the help of God can be very effective in managing your fears. God is stronger than your fears and anxieties. The most important thing is to pray and talk to God. Talk to God as if you were talking to a friend. Read the Bible and pray hard. Be persistent and be open in the avenues that God may provide to you in solving your problem. It is not always easy, however God is in control and he will help you if you ask Him.

Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.

unnamed

Forgiveness: The Power to Heal by Jamie Meyer

Forgiveness: The Power to Heal by Jamie Meyer

By: Jamie Meyer

Holding a grudge and refusing to forgive hurts you more than it hurts the other person. I liken it to being held captive by a ball and chain. Unable to move forward in life we remain stuck in the past, continually ruminating on what someone did to us. Unforgiveness makes it more difficult to “live well” in spite of having a mental health diagnosis.

It’s human nature to want justice. We want the other person to pay for what they did. At the very least we want an apology. Deep down we even question whether the way we were treated contributed to triggering our mental illness or worsened it.

How were you hurt at the hands of another? Were you bullied, made fun of, or stigmatized because you were different from your peers? Maybe you were hurt, or continue to be, in a relationship. They didn’t understand so they said hurtful things, ignored you, or walked away, leaving you feeling abandoned and alone. I’ll let you fill in the blank.

As is true of all things in God’s kingdom, hope for healing is found in Christ alone. Are you thinking that there’s no way you can possibly forgive your enemy? Jesus tells us “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27). I think that pretty much covers everything, no matter how grievous the violation. If we invite God into the process, then forgiveness is possible.

Refusal to forgive is often the result of not understanding what it means to forgive a person. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to forget what the person did or tell yourself the hurtful experience didn’t matter. As much as you might want to, you can never erase those painful experiences from your memory.

Forgiveness does not mean you let the other person off the hook either. They are still responsible for what they did. The person who hurt you may never come to you and say they’re sorry. In fact, they may have already passed away. Regardless, it’s comforting to know they’re accountable to someone greater than you: “Never take your own revenge….’Vengeance is mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19).

Probably the greatest misunderstanding about forgiveness is that it involves reconciliation with the offender. That’s wonderful if it’s something you want but in most cases there’s no desire to restore the relationship. Why risk the chance of being hurt again? Part of caring for ourselves and maintaining stability requires choosing healthy relationships.

Forgiveness is a process, one that takes time. You don’t wake up one morning and decide you’re going to forgive someone. Telling yourself “I forgive ___” won’t take away the hurt and resentment you feel.

A better place to start is by asking yourself some questions: Do I honestly believe the person who hurt me will someday tell me they’re sorry for their actions? What if they did apologize and beg for my forgiveness? Would that make up for the damage it caused in my life, the happiness and peace of mind I could have had, or how my life may have turned out differently? If that day came, it honestly wouldn’t be enough.

The process of forgiveness begins with accepting the reality that in all likelihood there will be no admittance of guilt, no apology, nor will they have become a better person over time. Letting go of those expectations and the need to get even will enable you to break free of the ball and chain.

The past and its memories will always be a part of you but you’ll no longer be weighed down by them emotionally. Although the length of time it takes to heal varies from person to person, forgiveness is something you do for you. In return you receive freedom, joy, inner peace, and the ability to move forward with hope.

 

Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.

unnamed

Our FREE Fresh Hope App​

Our FREE Fresh Hope App​

app-logo-720x1280

Fresh Hope is thrilled to announce that we have a Fresh Hope app for both Apple and Android mobile devices.   The app allows you to have all of our online resources (blogs, videos, podcasts, newsletter, recovery principles, etc.) all at your finger tips in one place. Download and let us know what you think!

 

Click on your store’s icon, and it will take you directly to the download:

ios          google-play-badge

“Why We Offer a Christian Mental Health Group at Our Church” By Dale Rose

“Why We Offer a Christian Mental Health Group at Our Church” By Dale Rose

By: Pastor Dale Rose

Mental health issues and how to deal with them came ‘out of the blue’ when our son was diagnosed as schizo-affected.  It was “upfront and personal” and very hard to deal with, but we had no choice.  The problem was ever growing as the experiment with different prescriptions did little to alleviate the paranoia, delusions and other symptoms Steve was enduring.   

As a family, where faith is paramount, we found that there wasn’t really any help within the church.  We traveled from church to church because our son believed that surely we would find the right place where this ‘problem’ could be dealt with once and for all.  Our search in the Christian community was met with one pastor who told us the problem was solved, “we cast out all the demons.”  Steve was excited, “finally someone found the problem and I’m going to be ok.”

He wasn’t ok and it was a great trial of his faith and of ours.   Steve was a Ministerial Studies graduate at one of the finest universities and found his place in ministry soon after graduation in Hawaii.    He was doing fine in a Calvary Chapel Church. It was there that he first began to exhibit signs that something was wrong. Things didn’t work out and he returned to the mainland.

For years we dealt with Steve’s mental illness as best we could.   At one time we even found a Christian therapist who was of the same denomination as us and was within our insurance program.  Unfortunately, the therapist was transferred to another distant hospital, too far for us to travel. We were met with frustration after frustration in our quest to find something besides meds and therapists who didn’t understand the spiritual aspects that were part of Steve’s particular illness.

We have found that the enemy of our soul delights in beating up those with mood disorders.  We often heard Steve say….. “God told me he was through with me, I’ve committed the unpardonable sin.”   It would require sessions of prayer and reasoning to convince him that it was a lie from hell.   We continued to support him and take him to counseling sessions and some peer support groups, some of which only made things worse.   We couldn’t find the right therapist! The support groups were not supportive at all, sometimes all the negativity only made things worse.   There didn’t seem to be any hope anywhere.

In March of 2014 I went to a symposium called Mental Health and The Church.  It was held at Saddleback Church where Rick Warren is Pastor. Before hearing any presenters, I was browsing the many books that were available for sale in the different booths.  

One of the books caught my eye, it had a simple title, FRESH HOPE.    That’s what we needed, fresh hope. Oh how we longed for something that would help us out of the pit we were in.  Speaker after speaker presented their stories and helps in regards to mental health and mood disorders. One speaker stood out,  Brad Hoefs, the author of the book I had bought before the sessions began.

Brad had his break with reality just like Steve.   It too was traumatic and life changing. Both Steve and Brad lost their ministries because of their mental health diagnosis.  When I returned to our church after the conference, I consulted with the lead pastors and told them about FRESH HOPE and that the three of us, Steve, my wife and I would like to see this ministry at our church.  At that time, one person had to have a mental health diagnosis in order to charter with FRESH HOPE. Steve was so excited when the leadership said yes to our proposal; he would once again have a place of ministry, helping facilitate a faith based mental health support group.

We began the training through the manuals and videos provided and set a date a couple of months ahead for our launch.  Sadly, we lost Steve to a massive heart attack two weeks before our launch. But having walked beside him in his journey for seventeen years, we decided that we could use our experience and knowledge gained to help others.

Four and a half years have elapsed since that symposium and we continue to minister to those who suffer from the stigma associated with mental illness.   We are doing our part to end the stigma and break the silence, we see FRESH HOPE at our church as Steve’s legacy.

I visited a mental health ward at one of our hospitals five times last week.  This week we will have our regular meeting with people looking for help and hope; they won’t leave disappointed.   Fresh Hope fills the bill! Last week twenty seven people left feel better than when they came. We recently had to change our meeting location because we outgrew the old one!  Steve would be so glad to see that his years of suffering helped us to better reach out and touch someone. Fresh Hope is an expression of God’s hand extended. Now our quest and challenge is to develop new leaders.  Our belief is that every church needs Fresh Hope! The statistics demand a response from the Christian community. I have found that Fresh Hope is the best response a church can offer!

Thank God for all of the different groups making an effort to alleviate the pain and suffering of those with mood disorders.   However, some of them are stuck in molds that aren’t the best. One church uses a program that goes for twenty-four weeks, but if you miss the first two weeks, you have to wait till they start over!   You are welcome at Fresh Hope anytime!
Picture1Pastor Dale Rose is Minister of Pastoral Care at Canyon Hills Assembly of God in Bakersfield, California.   He and his wife, Martha, facilitate the weekly Fresh Hope peer support program for the church and are ambassador-advocates for mental health issues.   Martha does the “heavy lifting” (teaching) each week.  Contact info: freshhope4u2@gmail.com

 

 

 

Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.

unnamed

Positive Friends Impact Depression’s Effect by Rick Quall

Positive Friends Impact Depression’s Effect by Rick Quall

By Rick Qualls

Depression lies.

It convinces you, ‘“My friends don’t want to be around me.”  “I’ll just bring everyone else down.” “I am not worthy of having friends.” “Nobody likes me anymore.”

When you are depressed, making and keeping friends can be a challenge. But research shows that a group of positive friends makes a difference.

Professor Frances Griffiths, head of social science and systems in health at Warwick Medical School University of Warwick, said: “Depression is a major public health concern worldwide. But the good news is we’ve found that a healthy mood amongst friends is linked with a significantly reduced risk of developing and increased chance of recovering from depression.”

In Griffiths study teens who have five or more mentally positive friendships have half the likelihood of depression. Those with ten friends have twice the probability of recovering from their depression symptoms.

What can you look for in positive friendships?  Good friends offer space to be yourself. They don’t try to fix you or try to make you act a certain way. They listen and offer support not judgment.

The Bible offers practical advice on developing and maintaining good friendships.

Good friends take time for each other. Friendships don’t occur in a vacuum.  “Be devoted to one another…” Romans 12:16. Spending time together doing activities that you enjoy or working on projects together create opportunities to build relationships.

Healthy friends disregard social differences, and do not avoid each other when problems arise. “Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.” Romans 12:16

Positive friends are not narcissistic. A narcissist can be attractive to be around at first. They are full of “self-confidence” and an energy that draws us when our self-confidence is at a low ebb.

But it is a negative signal if they manipulate you to prop up their ego. They talk about themselves and their accomplishments. They brag about knowing how to get special treatment. It is a warning if you begin to notice that all they talk about is themselves. You may notice they lack empathy or compassion or caring for others. A narcissist uses your depression against you and will make your situation worse.

Good friends develop trust over time and it becomes safe to share their deepest hearts, even the weakness and sin in our lives. “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed…James 5:16

Positive friends offer non-judgmental support and listening. Friends accept you when you are depressed, when you are grieving, or going through any kind of trials. “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” Romans 15:7

Solid relationships are based know how to put up with each other’s quirks and idiosyncrasies. Everyone has some peculiar behaviors. “…be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Eph 4:2

Friends build each other up and do not tear the other down. Words are powerful tools to help bolster one another. “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Eph 4:29

Friendships don’t just happen. We must be intentional about developing these relationships. They take time, encouragement,  trust, and sharing with one another.

These healthy friendships can have positive impact on your depression.

Depression lies. There are people around you that care.

Check out Rick’s other posts and the posts of all of our Fresh Hope bloggers at: Fresh Hope Blog

 

Photograph by Priscilla Du Preez

Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.

unnamed

 

How I Dealt With My Persistent Fears & Anxieties by Stan

How I Dealt With My Persistent Fears & Anxieties by Stan

By

I have struggled with fear, anxiety, and stress for over 20 years.

During this time, I have talked to various professionals in the counseling fields, read many books, and researched many ways on how to overcome my personal fears. Here are some suggestions I can provide for people who struggle with fear and anxiety on a regular basis.

The first thing I did was to talk to various counselors since they knew how to deal with fear and anxiety. Whenever I talked to these counselors, I would always bring a notebook and take notes so I would not forget the advice that was given to me. In addition, I read many books and articles on how to deal with fear and anxiety. Talking to the professionals was very helpful to some extent, however I had to take it upon myself to learn as much as I could so I could effectively deal with my personal fears.

 

By getting help I learned many techniques on how to deal with my fears.

One of my favorite techniques was learning how to manage my negative thoughts. Whenever I would get a negative and fearful thought, I would challenge that thought with positive statements and realistic thinking. I also made it a habit to focus on the facts of my current situation and not on my negative thoughts.

For example, when I went Penn State and I was always afraid that I wouldn’t pass my difficult classes. There were times my fearful thoughts got the best of me especially during finals. These fearful thoughts who race through my head and I would get very anxious. As a result, I began to manage my negative thoughts by reading positive statements from books and newspaper articles. I also gave myself a lot of pep talks before exam time so I would feel better. I also said a lot of prayers which helped me in those situations and I took it one day at a time. It was tough, however I was able to manage my negative thoughts and pass my exams and classes.

 

Learning how to deal with my fears.

As I learned how to deal with my fears, I made it a habit of surrounding myself with supportive people who understood what I was going through. During some of my anxious times, one of my good friends gave me a hard time and was not very supportive. I tried to explain my situation to him, but he would not listen. One day I got mad and told him to leave me alone if he was to continue getting on my case. He later apologized and was more understanding. I learned that hanging out with unsupportive friends or family members made my worrying worse and that it is best to deal with people who willing to support you with your anxieties and fears.

There were many times I felt like giving up because my fears and anxieties were so powerful and I didn’t know what to do. I worried about what would happen and that just made my fears that must stronger. In order to get out of this vicious cycle I realized that I had educate myself on the various techniques on how to deal with my fears. There was no other way and I also had to be very persistent in finding ways that helped my situation. I learned that giving up would only make matters worse in the long run. With a lot of practice I became very good at dealing with my fears. I realized that the answers to my problems were out there, however it was up to me to find those techniques that managed my fears and anxieties. If you struggle with fear and anxiety there is hope.

You can remain hopeful by depending on God to manage your fears and anxieties. Using the help of God can be very effective in managing your fears. God is stronger than your fears and anxieties. The most important thing is to pray and talk to God. Talk to God as if you were talking to a friend. Read the Bible and pray hard. Be persistent and be open in the avenues that God may provide to you in solving your problem. It is not always easy, however God is in control and he will help you if you ask Him.

Stans-bio-slide

Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.

unnamed

%d bloggers like this: