To say the recent string of suicides among pastors is tragic would be an understatement. My heart breaks for their families, friends & their churches. I often wonder what could be so bad that it would lead you to take your own life? I also hear about ministers who get involved in affairs, drugs, alcohol and other destructive behaviors. Why I ask? But having grown up as a minister's kid & being a pastor myself for over 22 years I know too well the pressures that those in ministry.
Now I'm not making excuses. I'm just saying I understand the pressures they endure. I remember watching my parents struggle with people who criticized their ministerial methods. Not unchurched people, church members! One of my best friends had death threats from a church member because he led the church to relocate! He also had Full Page ads in the local newspaper blasting him as an unGodly man. This was from a so called Christian. It's bad enough that pastors have to deal with styles of music and what we wear, but imagine being expected to be at everything that goes on in the lives of church members.
These pressures are not limited to the pastors either. Family members have unrealistic expectations placed on them. My then pre-teen son had one of his Sunday School buddies brag that his parents voted to cut my salary by a large amount. He has never forgotten that. I had a man at another church who disliked me so much he printed out everything I had ever said on any blog, not just my own. Then he brought the stack to the deacons to try to get me removed as pastor. Credit to our deacons that they tried to stop him. But then he got a room at a local restaurant & recruited people to come hear why I should be removed.
Now I have never thought about taking my own life. But I did consider going back to secular work. I even tried to get a secular job. But God wouldn't allow me to leave the ministry. I was reminded of my calling. But some ministers don't have the same support system that I have. I have a supportive wife & family. Some ministers suffer in silence.
I'm fortunate to be allowed to use my Spitual Gifts in a para-church ministry and have become active in our church. Pastors are my heroes! Not in an idol worship way but because I know how difficult it is to feed their flock & lead them to do what God wants them to do.
What can you do to make sure your pastor doesn't get to a breaking point?
1. Pray for your pastor daily.
2. Ask them how you can serve him?
3. Don't place unrealistic expectations on him?
4. Make sure they take a day off & guard it for him.
5. Make sure he has time to be with his family.
6. Take care of them financially.
7. Pray again.