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Thursday, October 18, 2012

How Safe Is Your Pastor From Depression?

From February to May of 1991 I talked to about 1000 pastors during a project to promote Meta Church Cluster Consultations for the Charles E. Fuller Institute for Evangelism and Church Growth (CEFI).  That was an eye opening and life changing experience.  Since that time I have held pastors in high regard for no other reason than their exposure to unending questioning and criticism of their motives, effectiveness, and leadership.  I learned then and it has been validated through multiple conversations with pastors over the past 20 years that not only does this situation persist but there is no one with whom they can share in their congregations for fear of reprisal.
The constant pressure under which our pastors live can lead to depression or worse, what should we as members of churches do about that?
That brings me to 2 Corinthians 1:23 – 2:4.  In this passage Paul shares his heart for the Corinthian believers asking God to bear witness to the truth of what he is saying.  He states that he works with them for their joy.  Then he says that he has not come back to see them so that he would not cause them sorrow, the word can also be translated irritate.  What we have here is the work of a man who is dedicated to establishing the joy of those for whom he cares, but the actions that he takes to that end irritate those whom he is committed to serve.

Those in the Corinthian church did not understand or accept that what Paul was doing was for the purpose of and would have in fact established their joy.  They were more interested in getting the building account funded and the proper balance of monies for the women’s and men’s ministries in the budget.  They were also concerned that Paul was not visiting them in the hospital when they were sick, and that he was not available to come to their dinners.  They also did not think that his messages were all that entertaining or weighty.

Unlike most pastors, Paul took this head on.  Of course he was an apostle, guided and inspired by the Holy Spirit.  All of the pastors with whom I have discussed this experience the same things Paul experienced with the Corinthians.  I wonder what we as congregants should do about that?