Even Shepherds Need Shelter

This article makes me so sad, and it is why I have come to believe that self-care is absolutely crucial for pastors (as it is for anyone in a helping profession):
What kind of personal pain would cause a 42-year-old pastor to abandon his family, his calling and even life itself? Members of a Baptist church here are asking that question after their pastor committed suicide in his parked car in September. 
Those who counsel pastors say Christian culture, especially Southern evangelicalism, creates the perfect environment for depression. Pastors suffer in silence, unwilling or unable to seek help or even talk about it. Sometimes they leave the ministry. Occasionally the result is the unthinkable.

Experts say clergy suicide is a rare outcome to a common problem.

But Baptists in the Carolinas are soul searching after a spate of suicides and suicide attempts by pastors. In addition to the September suicide of David Treadway, two others in North Carolina attempted suicide, and three in South Carolina succeeded, all in the last four years.

Being a pastor — a high-profile, high-stress job with nearly impossible expectations for success — can send one down the road to depression, according to pastoral counselors. (Read the whole USA Today article HERE)
While not all churches or traditions stigmatize depression as much as the article depicts, even pastors of the most understanding congregations face a constant and tough choice: if they are honest about their discouragements and even depression, they're likely to bum out even the most sympathetic listeners. And they stand the risk of coming off like a whiner instead of a spiritual leader.

Well, too bad. I see a counselor regularly. I am profiting from various mechanisms for self-care. And I do my best not to hide behind a false facade, if only so my best prayer supporters know how to pray for me.

There's not a pastor I know who wouldn't profit from more attention to self-care. Even shepherds need shelter.


  1. Bob, I really enjoyed your post today. Being in the ministry is tough sometimes..... You have wonderful days and awful days when you don't think that you can go on. I am thankful that you are wise enough to be able to seek the help and rest that you need. I heard recently a pastor say that many pastors get so wrapped up in ministry (things) that they forget what is the most important thing....their own relationship with the Most High. Blessings to you and your family!

  2. This is a huge problem. If the Enemy can bring down the Pastors then people will more easily lose their faith. There is a 'Year of the Priests' in the Catholic Church this year, we are praying for our priests. Just look at the way the enemy have targeted our pastors and how many have fallen. Prayer protection is the surest way out of this. I don't only pray for my Catholic priests, but for Pastors everywhere.