Very interesting article in Christianity Today (and I don’t day that very often) dealing with the topic of pastoral suffering, When the Pastor Suffers. Pastors are not different than any other Christian in that they suffer health issues, depression, frustration, sin and other maladies. In many cases, it is actually worse for the pastor because the expectations are so high. The article looks at John Piper, diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2006 and Matt Chandler who just had surgery to remove a mass from his frontal lobe.
What I found missing is the question of where the vocational minister turns when his own life inevitably hits a road bump. If a congregant is struggling, they can go to the pastor for help. If the pastor is struggling, where does he go? Because of their audience, men like Matt Chandler and John Piper have people all over the country fasting and praying for them. What about the pastor of the local Baptist church with 75 members?
This is a very real problem. When someone who is the pastor of a local church needs to be ministered to, who does that? Who can? Few people are equipped to do much ministering because they are not ever expected to. That is what the pastor is for. When pastors struggle, when they are hurt, when they need someone to turn to, where do they go? It can be hard when the congregation puts their pastor on a pedestal and expects perfection from him, his wife and his kids. How is someone supposed to expose their own problems under those circumstances without people looking at him like he is flawed (which he is) or thinking that he is grumbling?
The major problem with men leaving the ministry each year, in my opinion, is that the burden of ministry is so skewed that it leaves virtually the whole burden on one man to the extent that no one is equipped or perhaps even willing to help him when he needs it. The burden, never intended to be carried alone but always intended to be shared among the Body, is more than one man and his family should bear.
So what do you say? Where do pastors go when they need to be ministered to?