In light of what has been reported by some as another pastoral suicide, I have received quite a few messages about why this might happen. I will give you a glimpse into the pastor’s mind. Hang with me for a moment.
It is easy for a pastor to find his identity in his job as a pastor. I did. As a man, I allowed success to be determined by how many were in attendance, how many people were actively involved in various ministries, etc. When my work was criticized, I took it very personally. Often, I took it way too personally. I allowed myself to believe I was failure. That spirals into long bouts of depression. You begin to question if you do anything right. You feel an intense responsibility, wondering if you have failed the people God has entrusted to you and that you have ultimately failed God.
Some might read this and think, “A pastor should be more spiritual than that. That’s what a pastor gets for taking his eyes off Jesus.” Meanwhile, that same pastor will walk through fire with you and withhold such judgment toward you when your world is falling apart. Pastors are human…they are people JUST. LIKE. YOU.
What do I recommend to those who are not in church leadership? Extend the same grace to pastors and staff that God extends to you. Speak words of affirmation to your pastors. You may think, “They have been called to give.” Here is my question – How will they give from an empty tank? Your response might be, “Well, Jesus should be filling His tank.” The truth is, Jesus should be filling yours too. While Jesus is all we need, God also designed us to thrive in community. Let your pastors in to be part of that community too. It could make a difference between life and death.