In the past few months some prominent pastors have fallen: one to suicide, another to an affair. As a fellow Pastor my heart grieves and aches for the confusion, loss and pain felt by these men, their families, and the churches they served.
Being a Pastor is difficult.
With a depression rates greater than the general population, high job dissatisfaction, economic hardships, the inability to “turn off” or “shut down”, spiritual attack, betrayal by friends/leaders and criticism from congregants or their own thoughts, some pastors are in a fight between life and death. Those who fall don’t crash overnight—the spiral downward begins as a slow gradual slide. Symptoms of the slide might include: less time in personal prayer and bible reading, retreat and withdrawal from relationships, looking for a new ministry setting, inability to focus, insomnia, nurturing secret sin, lack of passion or vision, desiring a way out of ministry, and anger at God. A renewed church must have a regularly renewed leader. As a Replanter or revitalizer it is imperative that you are constantly renewed by the power of Jesus and grace of God.How can that happen?
- Rest in the finished work of Christ as an approved child of God
- Spend time in prayer and God’s word regularly
- Meditate on the scriptures, memorize key passages and verses
- Pray the Psalms
- Remind yourself that ministry is a marathon, not a sprint
- Adjust your definition of success to include more than numbers
- Get away: establish a day off and make it sacred—no church work, email or communication. Take a vacation or schedule a stay-cation
- Laugh often: become a gatherer of good humor
- Establish an exercise routine
- Eat healthy: establish a sustainable eating plan, not just a diet of deprivation
- Accept accountability—talk openly and honestly about your hurts, fears and temptations with others who love you enough to care, challenge and correct
- Get good Christian counseling, make it part of your regular pattern of self-care
- Have non-church, non-Christian friends
- Read regularly—especially the biographies or books of Pastors who are no longer with us but ran the race well
- Keep and update a “blessings” list or answered prayer list and review it often
- Get a dog—a dog is always happy to see you no matter what kind of day you had or sermon you preached
- Develop a hobby where progress and completion are clear—the work of a pastor is often difficult to measure or define
Don’t suffer in secret, alone or in silence. You are not alone. You have a band of brothers in other Pastors who know what it is like to be where you are, to feel what you feel.
Do you help? Call the confidential Pastoral Care Line at: 1.844.727.8671 or consider the Pastoral Support resources available through the North American Mission Board
Published June 23, 2015