Pastors, did you know that Charles Spurgeon, dubbed, “The Prince of Preachers” struggled with depression? So did Martin Luther, Martin Lloyd-Jones, Job, King David, Jeremiah the prophet, and even the Apostle Paul. In fact, the Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 1:8, We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Later in that same letter, Paul wrote that God comforts the depressed, a broad statement that apparently included himself. A few of these may have needed medication which they didn’t have as we do today. Yet, whether that’s the case or not, there is always hope in Christ.
Serving as a pastor is one of the most rewarding, and at the same time, challenging jobs in the world. I speak from the experience of my staff and counseling many of them in our 24 years. I was also a pastor for 10 years prior to starting GLI. Here are seven reasons pastors and/or their spouses can need counseling.
- Spiritual Warfare – Satan will do everything possible to discourage a pastor, and when possible, to destroy their family and ministry.
- Silent Isolation – A pastor often doesn’t have a safe person to talk with other than their spouse about personal struggles. One pastor asked if he and his staff could get several sessions just to make certain each of them was emotionally healthy.
- Unrealistic Demands – The demands of pastoring are often so overwhelming that they live in a constant state of fatigue. Most pastors are never given a clear job description.
- Constant Criticism – People today believe they have a right to criticize their pastor and may do this by email or even worse, by social media. This is deeply hurtful.
- Financial Pressure – The constant fear of not having enough money is real. This can be exacerbated if a pastor is untrained in how to live on a budget.
- Ministry Comparison – Pastors who don’t have a solid grip on their identity in Christ, can fall prey to defining themselves through comparison with other pastors.
- Faith Paradox – Pastors can feel guilty when struggling, believing that if they just trusted God more, they wouldn’t struggle with discouragement, depression, fear, etc.
Christians around the world were shocked recently when prominent pastor, Jarrid Wilson, committed suicide. Jarrid was on the staff of Harvest Church, where well-known, Greg Laurie, is the Lead Pastor . If you observed what we hear in our counseling with pastors, you might understand how this could happen. Many pastors can lose hope that they are ever going to stop feeling so defeated. When they do, they can entertain thoughts of suicide like any other person.
Pastors, we understand and are here to help. Three of our 30 staff have been pastors. All of our counselors have a special place in their hearts for pastors and their spouses. We are Biblical counselors who have great compassion for other pastors. You don’t have to suffer alone. While we can never promise results, 24 years of helping pastors, their spouses and many others have shown that our method of counseling can be very effective. All of our counseling is and if you are concerned about anonymity, we offer confidential online counseling whether you are near one of our three offices or 3000 miles away. If you are in a crisis, we may even be able to offer a three-five day intensive. (We are also part of a network of national counselors to pastors.)
If you are a pastor or spouse in need, please contact us for a consultation. If you know of someone in ministry who needs counseling, consider forwarding this to that person. Jesus may work though you to give them that little nudge they need to get help.
Live Free in Christ,