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The number on my smart phone screen was not one I recognized, but I answered anyway. The voice on the other end was weak and trembling. I listened carefully as he described the circumstances of a personal crisis. He was confused, afraid and embarrassed.Throughout my many years of pastoral ministry experience, I’ve become accustomed to receiving crisis calls. They always tug on my heart, but this one even more so. The one in crisis was a fellow pastor. “I’ve never been at such an emotional place,” he confessed. “I’m afraid I’m going to lose my church and more importantly . . . my marriage.” Sadly, rarely a week goes by, that I do not receive a phone call or email like this.
A local Leader Care Facilitator encouraged this pastor to call – one of several former pastors or directors of missions, ministering to pastors and church staff around the state. The details differ, but the circumstances are similar. The pressures and demands of local church ministry can too often become overwhelming, and a pastor often does not know where to turn.
In recent years, our “post-Christian culture” and “light and sound internet generation,” have increased the level of expectations and strained the resources of many local churches and their ministry staff. Add to this, the desire for instant gratification and the belief among church members (as well as many of us in ministry) that pastors and their families should be “above the fray” in their ability to withstand the increased demands. Put all this together and it becomes the perfect storm for a pastor in crisis.
Pastors and church staff members often feel as if they cannot show any personal vulnerability, or garner support for their doubts and insecurities. They have come to believe that no one can be trusted. Then, when overwhelmed by demands and expectations, they can feel lonely, isolated and believe they have no one to call a friend—even in a larger church or community.
We too easily forget the example set by Jesus. He invited 12 men to follow Him, cultivated three close relationships (Peter, James & John) and one very close companion who was called “—the beloved disciple”He referred to all of them as “friends” during the final week of His life (see John 15:12-17).
As with many of the calls I receive, there is a happy ending. I was able to help this pastor understand that he was having a normal response to an extraordinary circumstance. The Leader Care Facilitator stepped in to fill his pulpit for a couple of Sundays, while the pastor took some time off to work on his marriage. Through prayer, support and some Christ-centered Biblically-based counseling by a New Life Counselor, this servant of Christ was able to find healing and encouragement. As a result, he is still serving the church and his marriage is on the mend.
A Leader Care Facilitator is ministering to pastors and church staff in your area. Click on the facilitator tab for no-cost, confidential contact by one of our trained facilitators.