Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Pray for your pastor (and mine)

I am sure most of you are aware of Pastor Jarrid Wilson's death. For those of you who are not aware, he committed suicide after battling with depression.

My heart goes out to his family. I cannot imagine the pain his wife and children are going through and I am devastated.

But as I sit here and watch my husband sleep, I worry. You see, Pastor Wilson's situation is not unique. Numerous other pastor's over the last few years have ended their lives tragically and my heart breaks. You see, my husband is a pastor as well. We just finished our first year at our church and it is his first time serving as Senior Pastor. And he is tired.

He is very tired.

Almost as soon as we arrived, the battles started--and he is tired of fighting them.

It wouldn't be so terrible if they were actually necessary battles, but the ones we've been fighting are so unnecessary it's pathetic. By the way, people get all bent out of shape for the most ridiculous reasons. For non-existent reasons.

Without getting into specifics, we have had to deal with adults trying to fight like five-year-olds. We have had to deal with people using their one source of power in the church to manipulate others. We have had people over-step their role to try and dictate what a leader was doing. We have been lied about and lied to. We have had every personal decision critiqued by people in the church who have no business trying to dictate how we live our lives.

We live in the parsonage in a bad area of town. The floor slopes upstairs and for the first six months we were here, I didn't feel comfortable having my infant sleep in her crib because it wasn't level. The subfloor in both bathrooms are soft. The walls are separating from the ceiling. There are broken and rotting windows. The back deck is sketchy to say the least. We have had people show up when we weren't home--and they knew we were on vacation. We had a man strung out on drugs behind our house, cursing and throwing rocks in his underwear. A man tried to break into our home and, several months later the same man was wanted for a double homicide. Our neighbors constantly have police at their doors for drug-related activity. We have strangers strung out on drugs walking through our yard at any time day or night.

We don't feel safe in our home--the place where a pastor should have sanctuary.

And in the sanctuary, we deal with criticism.

I am not saying everyone in our church is like this. Actually, the vast majority are amazing and loving people. But the fact is when there are even two or three people who are constantly negative and constantly fighting unnecessary battles with the pastor, eventually it wears that pastor out. Eventually, it messes with their minds. Eventually, they become so exhausted and beaten down that they struggle sleeping restfully.

My husband is sleeping--but not restfully. I can see the tension still in his body. He tosses and turns. His breathing is rapid. And my heart is breaking for him. All ministry roles are hard. Every pastor struggles with stupid battles. But my heart breaks for my husband because he shouldn't have to fight them. No pastor should have to fight stupid battles. They need their energy for the real ones.

You guys, please pray for your pastors. But also let them know you're praying for them. Let them know you love them. If someone is speaking negatively about the pastor, please shhh them. Please, don't let your pastor fight those stupid battles alone. Please support your pastor, encourage your pastor.-- and please, because I know they struggle to, pray for your pastor's family. Pray for their spouses who have to watch helplessly as their husband or wife is bullied people who thirst for power. Pray for their children who have to watch their mom or dad become more and more worn out. Pray they do not become cold toward the church.

And please be the encourager of your pastor--not one of the people who harm them.

Shower them in love.

Depression is real for pastors. Discouragement is real for pastors.

They are not invincible to it. It has nothing to do with how close they walk with Jesus. And no, depression is not necessarily a result of bullying. But no one knows what goes on inside another's head. You don't know the struggles your pastor is dealing with, please don't become the reason the pile gets bigger unnecessarily.

Don't you dare say, "Welcome to Ministry!"

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