I was so saddened earlier this week to read the news about a pastor taking his own life after battling depression and anxiety. It really brought into sharp focus for me the struggle that pastors have on a day to day basis, and my own battle with depression back when I was in my early 20s. My heart breaks as I look at the photos of his wife and kids left behind. This post isn't about suicide prevention; but I've got some things on my heart that need to be shared.
We need mentors that we can talk to about our struggles, and we need to learn to be vulnerable with them. Far to often (and I've been guilty of it myself) we internalise hurts and discouragements, because we're afraid of looking like a failure, or because we're worried about how we'll be perceived, or worse, we feel like we're the only ones struggling or battling with sin.
Please pastor, you're not the only one that struggles. Other pastors are struggling with the same problem you're facing. The beauty of having a mentor older and wiser than you is that they would have faced many of the same struggles you're facing now in your ministry - they can help you, and if you let them, they will help you. I text my mentor once telling him "I've never been more discouraged in my life" and he drove 400km (250 miles) to see me the very next chance he could. I beg of you, for the sake of your health and your family, and your walk with God, talk to your mentors. If you don't have a mentor in your life, begin praying that God would bring one into your life.
Your pastor isn't a super hero. He's just a regular guy with a call of God on His life. He doesn't have all the answers. There are times he doesn't know what to do. There are times he struggles to get motivated enough to even stand behind a pulpit and pretend he wants to be there. But he loves you with a love that comes only from God.
So love him back. Love his family. Don't listen to gossip, in fact, shut that backbiter down the moment they open their mouth. Pastors need people who stand up for them and their family. Especially their family. A pastor expects people to attack him; sadly it comes with the territory. But malicious, snide comments about the pastors wife, or the pastors kids, hurt and wound a pastor more then you'll know. And the worst of it? They don't have the time to bind up their own wounds; they are too busy trying to look after you. So become the defender of your pastor. Be the one that the pastor can depend on, rain, hail or shine.
Let's get this message out there.
With love & tears,
I'm a Husband and a Daddy, a minister, a teacher and preacher, writer, youth leader, blogger, and servant of a great God.