Pastor Celebrities and Suicide

I want to write to you from a pastor's perspective to encourage fellow believers to change the way they approach the men that shepherd the flocks.  As I feel deeply strong about and have communicated before, no one is immune to falling into the darkness.  Great men in scripture fell (Abraham, David, Peter, etc..).  Pastors can easily fall into the same traps as those individuals that sit under their teaching.  This isn't to offer an excuse, but to shed light on some much needed reality.

This week, a California pastor took his own life.  Now, I had never heard of Andrew Stoecklein.  However, I can sympathize as a fellow man of God's ministry.  Being a pastor isn't easy.  In fact, the day I graduated Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, President Paige Patterson told us, "ministry isn't for wimps".  He was right.  It isn't a happy-go-lucky profession.  It is a calling that is met with strong resistance, fighting, and backlash.  And sadly, much of this comes from the least in the United States.  Congregations will sometimes destroy their pastors.

Again, I have no idea why Stoecklein took his life.  All I know is that we combat an enemy that has one simple goal: TO BRING ABOUT OUR DESTRUCTION.  Satan desperately wants to bring down the man of God.  He knows that destroying a pastor not only hurts one individual, but it crushes ministry, confuses believers, and causes division.  Its like dropping an atomic bomb in a major city.  The damage is catastrophic.

As the church in America, we don't help much.  Our expectations of God's men borderlines on the utter ridiculousness.  Now, it is good that we hold these men to a high standard.  That's biblical.  We also need to practice healthy church discipline, especially in the midst of a moral failure.  However, maybe its time we look at the ways the body can help be a preventative measure for the men that shepherd.  Instead of expecting our pastors to be "celebrities" in our tweet-happy, sound byte culture, maybe we stop trying to fit into pop culture and be a true part of the body.  

We do our ministers a disservice when we enable their own self-promotion much like we might do with a movie or rock star.  We do our ministers a disservice when the standards we hold them too aren't centered around biblical truth and integrity, but the worldly idea of corporate success and fame.  If we spent time on our knees, praying for our pastors instead of complaining about them and beating them up, we'd be doing one of the best things we could ever do for them.  But let me encourage you to do more!

I understand moral failure and the greater good of relieving a person for the sake of truth and the furthering of the gospel.  However, our restoration of those who screw up, needs help.  When a friend gets lost in the darkness, why would we just let them go?  Why not shine our lights and fight tooth and nail to find them and pull them out of the dark?  

In the Army, the Chaplain has a bodyguard...the Chaplain Assistant.  Now, the Chaplain Assistant does much more than just protect the Chaplain.  The Chaplain Assistant can even have a huge part of doing ministry for the Soldiers.  However, one of the commitments of the Chaplain Assistant is to take bullets for the Chaplain, to stand in the way of fiery darts, and to drop everything to ensure the safety of the Chaplain.

What if we operated that way to protect pastors?  We take darts for them.  We stand in front of spiritual bullets.  We defend them against unrighteous criticism.  We protect their families instead of tear them apart.  We shield them as much as we can from the enemy.  

True, this takes more work and commitment.  Complaining and firing is easy.

Our men of God need the care of God's people.  Prayer, accountability, protection, and friendship are musts!  Being a pastor can be a lonely position, so can being a Chaplain!!  We need Godly friendships and fellowship!  Let's commit anew to protect our shepherds.

Please consider checking out my book "The Chaser".  It deals heavily with overcoming the darkness and helping others fight against the schemes of the enemy!