We can be rough on pastors and church leaders at times, but that does not mean we do not have compassion for them. Even though there are a lot of men who occupy the position when they shouldn’t be there, we are still troubled and sad when we hear of their deaths by suicide. There are two articles in the Christian Post this morning talking about this issue, the first is titled
In Isolated World of Pastors, Churches Mum on Troubling Clergy Suicides
You can read it at the following link
It is an isolated world as most pastors carry the burdens and sins of their congregations and struggle to make sense of why their people do not make the right decisions and live their lives according to what God has said in the Bible. They are overwhelmed sometimes by the petty nature of their flock and find that they have no one to turn to to talk with about their situations.
When we were pastors and also part of a church, we got tired of other believers learning of a problem and saying- well just pray about it and then walk away. Not being able to find constructive help is part of the problem that helps isolate pastors and keeps them alone in this world. We feel alone as well when we write this blog as we have no one to talk to either and while we appreciate the likes we get, they only go so far. Just like those comments to pray abut it only go so far.
I’m very surprised because he didn’t preach that. He preached totally against it. It’s something that the congregation don’t really understand,” Russell Rowland, a member of the Bibb Mount Zion Baptist Church in Macon, Georgia, where Parker was leader, said at the time.
“Everybody is just kind of stunned right now. I think a lot of people are just trying to understand why that happened. We’re just praying to the Lord for guidance on this,” he said.
Maybe it is the way the congregation views their pastors. They may get the idea that he is super spiritual and in need of no help from those who sit under the pastor’s guidance week after week. Pastors are human, they make mistakes and sometimes falter when the going gets tough. It is not easy being a pastor especially when the slightest mistake can cost them their jobs.
Moses made mistakes, he faltered but God had selected him to be the leader of his people. God did not use a zero tolerance policy on Moses but rebuked him when needed, taught him when it was appropriate and punished him with real justice and fairness. The church should look to God’s example when handling issues that arise when pastors err. They are after all, God’s anointed and appointed to be the shepherd to look after his sheep.
Yet the shepherd needs care and compassion as well. He cannot be left to his own devices because that makes him an easy target for evil to attack. Even though a pastor is spiritually trained, they can still make spiritual mistakes and need help to overcome their errors and return to healthy spiritual living. The internet is full of websites of former pastors and missionaries who have been successfully defeated by evil. That should not be.
An alarming number of pastors have taken their own lives in the last five years. And despite the increasing prevalence of suicide nationally, and the troubling rates at which the epidemic has been affecting certain groups of clergy, many churches remain silent on the issue.
Neither should this but we are sure there are underlying issues that evil has used to further remove God’s men from their positions. This is why prayer for your pastor and other church leaders is so important. They may be in spiritual positions but they are still human and possess human frailties. The problems pastors face is spiritually based and they need the correct spiritual help to overcome them.
If you need a human example, medical doctors d not give pithy little statements to their unwell patients. They get involved, find the right diagnosis, and then prescribe the right treatment. Sadly, most Christians think that pithy little statements is going to cure a difficult spiritual problem. They do not get involved and pass the buck back to God. This is not biblical teaching. When confronted with problems we need to go to God to know how to handle it properly, but we do not give it back to God and walk away. Unfortunately, that is what the majority of believers do.
The second artilce is titled,
Inland Hills Pastor Andrew Stoecklein Takes Life After Battle With Depression, Anxiety
You can read it at the following link
In his example we can find some reasons why pastors commit suicide.
It is also unclear how long the pastor had been battling depression and anxiety but in a blog post on the first anniversary of his father’s death he revealed that life had suddenly become much harder without the man who was his hero.
Their eyes are not on God. They have decided to look to humans to be their strength and inspiration instead of Christ. If you recall when Jesus walked on water, Peter began to fall when he took his eyes of Christ. Pastors are no different. if their eyes are not on Christ then they become vulnerable to the troubles that surround them.
This does not take away from the shining example that pastor’s father set or the type of man he was. But Paul warned about placing our eyes on people for it causes division in the church. 1 Cor. 1 & 3 are the references for this point
11 For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. 12 Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.” 13 Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? (Ch 1 NASB)
3 for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? 4 For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men?
5 What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one.(ch. 3 NASB)
When men and women set great spiritual examples our eyes and minds should be on Christ and thanking God for the type of men and women they were. At no time should our eyes stray from Christ even when loved ones are involved.
By the time the second anniversary of his father’s death came around in October 2017, Stoecklein was in the hospital to undergo two surgeries to remove a mass from his chest, according to a post on Instagram. It is unclear if this mass was due to sudden illness or injury
Pastors are human and will succumb to different ailments. God has not promised anyone a life free from corruption and disease. One of our professors, a very beloved man, took his life many years ago because he could no longer handle the many illnesses that came his way. Pastors can handle only so much before it becomes overwhleming and they need an immediate solution to relieve their suffering.
While God provides the strength to endure, sometimes that is hard to get as the enduring takes so much out of a person and eventually, if it is allowed, helps takes the eyes of the person off Christ. Difficulties are a part of the Christian life. Learn how to handle them correctly and be prepared to teach those strategies to others who need help.
You guys, he loves this place so much. He didn’t want to stop. He would have kept on going, going and going and going. It probably would have cost him his life. That’s how much he loves this place.
Misguided or misplaced love opens up weak spots for evil to exploit. Each pastor should make sure that they are using the love that only Christ can bring so that they are well protected when difficulties in the congregation arise. Human love and its various definitions just won’t cut it and a pastor can burn out very easily. They also need to make sure that their love does not cause them to switch sides and go against God because they love their people too much.
By going against God we do not mean they lose their faith, but take the side of the people and their desires over God and his desires.
During this season of rest, I’ve asked him over and over. Are you sure? You don’t have to be a pastor. You could go be whatever you want to be. You could go live wherever we wanna live, we could go to Texas and buy a big house.
While that wife may not have been tempting her husband, pastors do get tempted to leave the faith, their profession and do something easier. The guilt they feel when they fail to resist helps bring them down into depression and subsequently leads them to depression which then can lead to suicide.
“In this tragedy, we encourage anyone who is hurting emotionally to ask for help. If you or anyone else is struggling, the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-TALK (8255) is a potentially life-saving resource
If you are going to get involved, do not lead your pastor, church leaders and other believers to non-christian organizations or counselors. They do not understand the faith, they do not believe in God and they do not hold the answers for the troubles that plague believers and their leaders. We do not know if that organization is non-christian or not but if not, it better use God’s ways and not follow the secular world in their attempts to help others.
Getting involved properly will help restore pastors to their faith and hopefully save their lives.
One final possible reason why some pastors resort to killing themselves. It is pressure. The pastor already has instructions from God about how their family should behave and be raised. Members of the congregation do not help when they apply more pressure on the pastor and gossip about him, his wife, their kids and how good or bad their parenting skills are.
Also, many members of the congregation have their own ideas on how the church should be run, its direction and what programs need to be implemented. One way to relieve some of the pressure is to keep your ideas to yourself and let the people appointed lead the church correctly. Monitor their doctrine etc., but be nice about it when correction is needed.
Also, it would help if the same members who want different programs available in the church would go out and get the training needed to run those programs.Then come back to the church staff and say, I am available to help. Where do you need me? The pastor and his staff cannot do everything. They need help. That help can only come from the congregation.
It is difficult to assess why pastors commit suicide as their reasons vary. But if the congregations became more spiritual and less secular maybe that number would drop dramatically. Pastors need the right help. One last thing, outsiders should not interfere with the operation of the church. They have no say in who leads it. We disagreed with many outsiders when they sought to remove Mark Driscoll from the head of Mars Hill Church.
It was not that we were his supporters, or that we agreed with him doctrinally- we aren’t and we don’t. But it was Mars Hill’s problem. They get to determine who leads them not the outsiders who disagreed with Mr. Driscoll. It isn’t their call and relieving the pastor of this situation helps them mentally as well as spiritually. The church has to make sure their pastor is correct doctrinally before supporting him,but they do not throw him to those wolves who do not support the church in any fashion.
Pastoral care is a whole church issue and their lives are very important.