When a pastor commits suicide…
Today I read the devastating news that a pastor in California took his life over the weekend. I read this with a very heavy heart.
In the church world over the last twenty or more years, particularly in Pentecostal churches, we have treated our pastors like celebrities. Our modern churches and modern buildings often mean that by the time the pastor hits the stage to preach, he almost has rock-star status.
I remember going to a church when I was younger and the pastor used to enter the building at about the fifteen minute mark. By the time he walked through the crowd, it was like watching a celebrity walking through Rodeo Drive. There was not an eye in that building not watching our leader head down to the front of the church.
I must add that he was a very Godly man and was not in any way trying to be a rock star, but as the leader of his church, and a very good one at that, he sort of was a rock star to the congregants.
Of course, that environment means that we think the pastor doesn’t have problems. However, his ‘time in the sun’ only lasts for 90 minutes each week, and for the rest of the week he not only has to put up with all the issues of running his organization, but he is also everyone’s property.
If times are good and the church is powering, then his life is most likely good. But when church isn’t going so well, we all know it, and the pressure of holding it together when the church is not growing, or people are leaving, or there are constant issues, must be so tough. Afterall, there is so much more to running a church than that 90 minute timeframe.
I have just released a new book and in it I talk about how tough the Global Financial Crisis was for us. However, as we are a private company, no one had any idea the pain we were experiencing as customers and advertisers stopped spending overnight. We were in a world of pain, but because we are not everyone else’s property, we were able to go through our pain in privacy. But not so pastors.
Depression, anxiety and mental illness are real issues that affect Christians too. Loving God doesn’t eliminate all our problems, and so many Christians face a lot of issues that they probably think they shouldn’t have because of their faith. God has come to save us, but it doesn’t mean we don’t often walk a tough journey on this earth. Remember that long and narrow is our road…
Please, if you’re not in the right place, I urge you to get help. Never be too proud to reach out and ask for help. We all go through tough times, but there are plenty of people ready, willing and able to help. It doesn’t need to get to the point where you need to take your life.
In the meantime, my prayers are with the family of Pastor Andrew Stoecklein. I cannot even imagine the agony they are going through.
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