Ministers hide to die alone

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This term, used by a friend, conveys a powerful message about tragic consequences for some ministries when they do not receive needed support.  For a pastor or any other full-time servant of God, where should they go to request and receive adequate assistance?  Who should they contact?  When can such a need be merely a pause and not a capitulation?  There may be discouragement, a sense of failure, exhaustion, true depression, a feeling of downfall or abandoning the ministry and even suicide.  All forms of crises from the most common to the most extreme are found.

The Church often sees these crises and topics as “taboo”.  Few studies have dared to approach them, and even fewer solutions offered.  Yet after being around churches for a few years, we have all seen or heard of them.

I know of a preacher who, driven by the need to confess his temptations and spiritual warfare to a “friend”, found himself denounced and rejected by the denomination to which he belonged.   There was no opportunity to hear him out or receive assistance of any kind.  While the case was dismissed and an “at risk person” removed by his denomination, we should ask ourselves: “Is this how we are called to care for each other?  Jesus taught us a much higher response in Matthew 18: 15-20 and John 5:20.

Denying to listen and assist, only strengthens hypocrisy, distrust, and isolation, prompting  many ministers to say that “all is well”, when they are in fact in the midst of a storm.

Every laborer in God’s work must have a place to go or person to talk to where he or she can “unload” the burdens of their service.

But, to whom can this person turn in confidence?

I have often heard the following remark: “pray to God and it will go away”.  I believe in the power of prayer, but is it always enough or even the best solution?

A missionary couple once, gave us this testimony:  While they were suffering from exhaustion and asked for a time of spiritual rest after difficult years in their field of work, their leaders gave this unbelievable answer.  “You are examples, you have no right to be in pain or have any problems.”  They decided to leave the organization since nothing had been done to help with their wounds.

Why does the Church not help its own leaders, when its mission is to help the hurting.  ?Do we tend to focus on achievements at the expense of individuals ?

Would an army fight without a field hospital for its soldiers?

Do we believe that denying the existence of suffering will make it disappear?

Let’s think of the human cost this represents each year to suffering families and also assembly members, not just to the servants !   How can the sheep not feel the effects as well as their pastors in crisis ?

I know an example of a pastor who having reached his limits, decided to take advantage of the opportunity afforded him of taking a sabbatical .  For a year he became an average guy” with average pressures and frustrations.   He took care of his family.  He attended “incognito” in the pews of another church and listened to the Word of God.  After a year of healing, the Lord opened a door to support a small fellowship in another city.  After praying for this opportunity, he accepted the position there and entered a new extremely blessed period of service, during which time, that new church increased fivefold within a few years !

Let us remember that we are managers of a Divine spiritual calling (2 John 8).  “Take heed that you do not lose the fruit of your work, but that you receive a full reward.”

So, what are the solutions to not losing our ministries?

Could we implement solutions like: preparedness, prevention, support, crisis resolutions, sabbaticals, and training.

The debate is still open.

Eric Vincent DuFour

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