Working in the church should not be a depressant. I am not saying that it is, just that it should not be.
This thought comes to me while thinking about many men who leave their post with hurt and disillusion. Others who endure with a happy face painted on so that no one sees their pain because they have no place to go and they have to feed their families. There are statisticians who have studied and enumerated this reality. They would leave if they could. Some do anyway.
But the fact is that serving God within the context of His church should be a joyous thing. If it is not, there is certainly something wrong. This wrong may be on the side of the minister or on the side of those to whom he ministers. It may be a combination of both. But, it is very rarely a matter of external circumstances. It seems that most church folks are observant of such things from outside and keep them at bay.
Still, many pastors go to their pulpits with drudgery, hoping that something will be heard that is not going to be used in the next week as a whipping stick. They are times that he runs from the passage that he knows God is leading him to preach because he knows it will be used to bring him down further. He goes to his office and shrinks at the ringing phone because he sadly knows that there are those who do not carry joy in their voices. His ears perk when the door is opened because there is a darkness that some bring to the room and he really needs something other than that this Monday morning.
Down deep, he knows that there are people who really love him, and these are people who attend his church. He is at ease with them even though he knows that the jealous others will make something of it. He prays that they would stand up with him (not just for him) and show enough interest to help cast a vision that will turn this social club into a church.
There are many in the church who think that everything is a matter of money (many in government think so as well – we know better). There are many who think that stuff is what matters. Style is raised as being more important than most other things. The music of worship becomes the impetus for decline or control wars. And there is a dry baptistery that sees water maybe one time every other year.
Depression sets in on the one man that should never experience it, or so it seems. This depression is rarely diagnosed clinically because of the stigma involved. Help is also seldom sought because this man of God still has the hope inside that only one possessed by the Holy Spirit can have. In the quiet places that no one else sees he finally releases, and the hurt overwhelms if only for that moment.
This should never be the case, but it is. There really is not much that anyone can do directly for that pastor. Most of the time, he will never let on just how much this sorrow and pain is tearing him up inside, even if specifically asked. He has to be strong all the time or he will lose what little momentum he thinks he has gained. He has a “don’t quit” attitude that pushes him to a stubbornness which usually never pays off.
The encouragement that I want to share here is really less about that man who is hurting and more about the church in which he serves. You see, when the light is on him, every flaw he has is on open display. Believe me; he already knows which things are not right. You don’t need to point them out. So take the light off him. He doesn’t want the spot light anyway. It will allow him to have a flaw or two which are not displayed before the whole world. Give that man of God some dignity, the same dignity you want to enjoy in spite of your weak places.
Instead, help him put the light on things that God has called the congregation to do; The things God has shown him (which is absolutely not the repairing of everything you consider to be flawed in the pastor). After all, he may never get that thing corrected which you consider to be wrong. And that thing that you are so pointedly attempting to change in him may not actually be a problem after all. So, get off his back and get on his side. His hidden depression that is hindering the work will begin to heal, and people will come to Christ. Sounds like a prescription for good in both the pastor and the congregation.
See You SONday
© 2013 SF Gallagher