Yet another pastor has left us by suicide. Yet another wife has lost the love of her life; another two boys, their loving and dedicated father. News reports of young pastors committing suicide seems to be occurring at a very worryingly frequency.
Reflecting on the topic of suicide, I was reminded of the story of Jesus’ temptation recorded in the gospels.
We are told that Satan transported Jesus to the holy city of Jerusalem, perched Him at the highest point of the temple and said to Him: “If you’re really God’s Son, jump, and the angels will catch you. For it is written in the Scriptures: He will command his angels to protect you and they will lift you up so that you won’t even bruise your foot on a rock.” (Matthew 4:6 TPT)
To me, this attempt would’ve been meaningless if it wasn’t at all tempting to Jesus. Was Jesus’ 40-day testing so agonising that He might have been tempted to “end it all”?
Perhaps this is the same strategy that Satan adopts with many a child of God: “If you’re really a child of God, you will go straight into His arms… No more suffering and pain…”
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12)
Indeed, pastors face a daily onslaught. It can be intense, and they have few to turn to for comfort and encouragement.
Tell your pastor you love him, are thinking about him and praying for him. It may make all the difference.
We all expect so much from our pastors. We call them up the moment a crisis happens. We expect them to be available, and the ready conduits of divine wisdom and revelation for our specific and overwhelming troubles. We also expect them to be beyond reproach, always exemplifying the fruit of the spirit and the spirit of excellence.
They have to have it altogether in all aspects of life – I mean, if it were not so, then what authority and/or credibility do they have to speak into my life? Yet have we stopped to consider whether any of these expectations are reasonable or even possible to uphold?
There is no lack of statistics about pastors and depression, burnout, health, low pay, spirituality, relationships and longevity — and none of them are good.
According to the Schaeffer Institute, 70 per cent of pastors constantly fight depression, 71 per cent are burned out, 80 per cent believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families and 70 per cent say they don’t have a close friend. This is worrying indeed, and I suspect that the actual numbers may even be higher!
I know the kind of hours that my senior pastor maintains, from local church needs to national and kingdom assignments… and then surely, his wife and family. It can be an extreme strain and a very lonely journey.
Reading the tweets that Pastor Wilson posted on the day of his demise, it would not have occurred to me that he was a suicide risk.
However, having experienced depression myself, I know it’s complex. I don’t have the answers. What helped me may not help someone else. Any attempt to rely on or resort to simplistic generalisations will only result in more pain and suffering.
One thing we all can do is to drop your pastor a quick message to tell him that you love him, you’re thinking about him and praying for him. It may make all the difference today.
This article was adapted from a post on Clement’s Facebook page and has been republished with permission.
- When was the last time you spoke to your pastor for his sake?
- When did you last thank him?
- How can you bless your pastor this week?