September 16, 2019 • Lee Faler
Brothers, we are not Supermen.
On September 10, 2019 Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship, announced via Facebook that noted author, speaker and associate pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship Jarrid Wilson had tragically taken his own life. Laurie noted that Wilson had repeatedly dealt with depression, and had been very open regarding his struggles, and had even began an outreach along with his wife to aid those dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts.
This news troubled me to no end. Part of my personal testimony is one of deliverance from depression and suicidal thoughts. By God’s grace alone, I made it through the darkest valley that I’ve ever encountered during my 32 years. The truth is that depression is seldom talked about amongst pastors. Many pastors are not like Wilson, and they suffer in silence afraid to admit that they need help, afraid to acknowledge that they do not have it all together. They treat depression and mental illness as something to be ashamed of, and as if it’s something that would end their ministry. My friends, the silence has to stop, and the stigma must be removed. In this post I want to simply offer some pastoral reminders to all of us who are in the trenches of ministry.
You’re not Superman
As pastors we cannot pretend like Adam’s sin hasn’t affected us. We tend to forget that the effects of sin hasn’t just plagued our congregants, but it has plagued us too. Sin has broken our bodies and our minds are not exempt. We’re not immune to mental illness and depression. Our minds are fragile, and we are in need of restoration. We need to remember that the people in our churches aren’t the only ones who need the gospel, but we do too.
You’re not alone
Many pastors feel alone in their struggle with depression and mental illness, so they never mention it, and they suffer in silence. My friends let me remind you that you are not the only pastor that’s ever struggled with depression, and you won’t be the last. Surely you aren’t better than Charles Spurgeon or Martin Luther? Both of these men struggled with well documented depression. Satan wants you to believe that you’re alone in the fight. He wants you to be isolated in your depression because that’s where his voice is the loudest. Do not buy into his lies. You cannot isolate yourself. You must get help. Talk to a dr or a medical professional and get brother pastors around you to carry your burden. You cannot continue showing everyone else the rose, while hiding the thorns in your life.
“But what if my church members or other pastors think I’m weak? What if they realize that I don’t have it all together?” Can I tell you something? You are weak. You don’t have it all together. None of us are strong. None of us have it all together. We need Jesus too pastor and praise God that He is strong. He does have it all together. You are not the Savior of your church. That job is taken and that truth should free you to admit your weaknesses. There should be no shame in the company of the redeemed. We bear one another’s burdens knowing that the power of the gospel is seen in how we love each other in the midst of great weakness.
Our only hope is Jesus
When situations arise like a pastor ending his life, we are reminded that our world is tragically broken. Sin has ravished our health, our homes, and our habitat. We cry out like John in Revelation 22, “Come Lord Jesus!” We desperately want Him to return, because we know then, and only then will everything that is broken be made new. So make no mistake brother pastors, our only hope today, tomorrow, or any other day is Christ, and Christ alone.
If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.