Inland Hills Pastor Andrew Stoecklein Takes Life After Battle With Depression, Anxiety. Another dear shepherd dead prematurely. It is both sad and enraging when you consider how this could have been prevented, but now his family, friends, church, and community must suffer the loss and ask the question, "Can I make it in this
Pastors are falling into the temptation to commit suicide or chronically sin against God/families/congregations for many reasons: stress, financial hardships, boredom, depression, isolation, and the list go on.
Our sinful nature, with the added strife of spiritual warfare with unseen enemies, makes the matter worse.
One of the main issues that are least talked about is the deep isolation they experience in their church, families and among their pastoral colleagues. In this post, I will focus on the horizontal relationships they don't experience with their professional peers.
I have experienced and witnessed from 20 years of pastoral ministry that pastors are deeply isolated, competitive and distrustful of each other.
They don't find themselves sitting in a circle with other colleagues in intimate relationships without some kind of program, agenda, or highly structured prayer meeting that can be controlled by upper management.
We struggle to just be friends and initiate care without a sense of control over each other, or some motive to benefit/enlarge our Church, Network, Denomination, etc. We are in a real sense trying to grow our Christian mafias.
This struggle is an international phenomenon rooted in self-interest rather than Christ interest and the genuine interest of the local pastor. Apostle Paul found this trait of self-interest among many leaders in his era (Philippians 2:19-21).
The irony is if you join their family they tend to ignore you more than the recruitment process. Pastors go through the same process with elders, their spouse, and families. Once the evangelism of the relationship has been secured you left alone in the mega crowd of sheep fighting for the pastor's attention. Much of this is due to the "bigger is better" syndrome that plagues us.
Something about the pulpit and institutional structures and imagery of being clergy changes the chemical composition of our brains (could be the adrenaline from regularly speaking and honor placed on position) and the Western glorification of being on a stage/speaking/production and being called "pastor".
The entire Western church culture coupled with our sin nature is leading to some of the highest forms of personal, family and community dysfunction the Church has ever seen.
That is why many are falling in our Catholic and Evangelical institutions.
It's deeper than just personal depression. It's like swimming in Lake Okeechobee with all its toxic waste and a few lifeguards (Spiritual Father's) able to help you.
We must save ourselves, try to serve a few pastors with a desire to serve them, enhance their lives, and even ministry with no strings attached.
We need to become Spiritual fathers/brothers who want nothing in return, but a relationship and the success of that pastor, family and their local church independent of ours.
Jesus' main requirement to be His disciples is that the pupil allows Him to serve them (wash their feet). Imagine if we fought, initiated and earnestly sought ways to serve fellow pastors in order to enhance their personal and professional lives with no returns. We would reduce the burnout, suicides, and resignations from ministry due to chronic undercover sin.
2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”