I talk with pastors every day in my work. Having served in this vocation for 35 years, I have a heart for pastors and their families.
Pastors are not different from any other people. They want to be liked. They want to be praised. They want to be understood. They don’t want to be judged. And most pastors certainly do not want to be put on a pedestal.
This year the world was rocked when the son of Rick and Kay Warren committed suicide. In the press, and in their tweets, the Warrens have made themselves vulnerable and transparent.
In recent weeks news has broken of several pastors who have ended their own life or who struggle with various forms of mental illness. Today the online Christian Post carries this sobering story.
Reading it reminds me of a quotation of a now departed missionary friend who used to say:
I know many people who dread the holidays, for lots of reasons.
Unrealistic and unmet expectations…
Being with family members with whom they don’t get along…
Pretending they feel a kind of peace and joy that keeps evading them…
Feeling shame and guilt for getting trapped by the seemingly all-consuming consumerism all around them…
Pastors feel the same way. Do you think during December suddenly a calm surrounds them and a glowing halo is seen resting above their heads?
No halos certainly. But for some, yes, they do feel the peace of Christ and they lead from that core. For many others, the answer sadly is no.
Truth be told, I know several pastors taking anti-depressants. Am I surprised? Not at all. Do I hold that against them? Not at all. It’s not my nor your job, as the Apostle Paul says in Romans chapter 14, to judge another man’s servant.
But neither do I think it’s right to live in denial, somehow dissociating from all the pain in the world and pretending and saying:
Do not put your pastor or your leaders on pedestals. You know as well as I that all our “idols” have clay feet.
Rather, pray! Pray for your own family this Christmas. Pray for your church family. Pray for your pastor and his family.
Pray that the peace of Christ, which passes human understanding, will invade the lives of those leading in your church … your pastors, your leaders, your teachers. Pray that God will deliver them from the evil one. Especially pray that those in your sphere of influence will not lose hope nor feel as if they have to pretend.
I think prayers like those might actually sound a lot this: