The Pastor and Discouragement
I’ve heard it said many times, “the pastor has the easiest job!” Well that depends on what you’re referring to as a job. As a retired pastor myself, I never looked at my position of pastor as a job, even though I was paid for doing it. The position of pastor is a calling. And that calling is to serve God when and wherever the Lord calls him. The calling of pastor is not something you seek but you accept.
Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; . .” (NASB). The Lord was telling Jeremiah that He had planned his life and it radically impacted him. Even the Apostle Paul was told that God had “. . . set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, . .” (Gal. 1:15 NASB).
Pastors are not super human nor are they exempt from sin or even discouragement or depression. A long time ago Job cried out in his despair in Job 3. 24“For my groaning comes at the sight of my food, and my cries pour out like water. 25For what I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me. 26I am not at ease, nor am I quiet, and I am not at rest, but turmoil comes” (NASB). In fact, no one is exempt from discouragement.
Tom Landry, former coach of the Dallas Cowboys said, “I spent the first thirty-five years of my life, like most men in our competitive American culture, thinking success, fulfillment, and happiness would result from what I could achieve. My feelings of self-worth and my identity as a person were dependent on what I could do—first as a professional athlete, then on the sideline as a coach.
I’ve spent the last thirty-five years learning that God is far less concerned about what we do than He is about what we are. So what truly matters most in life is not our professional achievement, but our personal relationships—first with God, second in our families, and then with others we work and live among.
I’ve known a lot of guys who have tried to prove themselves ‘a man’s man.’ But it’s so much more important to be ‘God’s man.’”
Even with the success Tom Landry had, he still faced discouragement when Jerry Jones bought the team and soon fired him.
Pastors can be immeasurably hurt by unfriendly, unwarranted criticism. He can fall into despair over the apathy, indifference and lack of cooperation on the part of his congregation.
Perhaps one of the most troubling things people don’t realize is that when the pastor enters into a private counseling session with a church member and listens to the member unveil the hardships or heartaches that member is experiencing. As pastor, that has to remain confidential and he must learn to leave it with the Lord. Otherwise, it will eat at his heart and mind and lead to depression.
After I retired and joined a local church I became quite pleased and so blessed by our pastor. He was such a tremendous teaching pastor and the Lord used him mightily.
My wife and I had been members for some time when out of the blue, one Saturday afternoon we received word that our beloved pastor had taken his life at a remote location. I had learned he had been suffering from depression, but we never knew it. This was not only devasting for our church but for his family.
Yes, pastors suffer discouragement and depression. I knew the repercussions of sitting and listening to church members unload their minds in confidence. I thank God for taking the private sessions off my mind and heart so that I would not have to deal with them alone.
Today, I was devastated to read of another pastor taking his own life in California. The church there was devastated and so was his family. Yes, pastors do get discouraged and depressed!
Let me encourage you to pray for your pastor daily. You will not know how much it means to him and at the same time, he needs your support. I may not be pastoring a church now, but I serve a risen Savior and pray daily for my pastor.
May God bless you my pastor and my brother in Christ!