When pastors or spiritual leaders of Christian organizations battle with moral failure or get divorced or struggle with their teenagers, we often are perplexed. Aren’t they supposed to be different? Don’t they have a “PH.D.” in Godly living?” Aren’t they immune to disappointments, depression or other mental illnesses?
Of course, the answer to that question is a resounding “NO!” Our spiritual leaders are not immune to any of the above. They get frustrated, angry, hurt, depressed and lonely just like all the rest of us. Their insight into the scriptures, background in Christian living and experiences with the Lord are significant. They usually are mature in Christ.
Mature, yes. Immune to failure and frustrations, NO!
Studies over the last ten years (from such sources as Focus on the Family, Fuller Seminary, and articles like “Statistics on Pastors” by Krejcir) have suggested facts like these:
- 70 % of pastors constantly fight depression
- 77% of them do not believe they have good marriages
- About 50 % of them will end up in divorce
- 33% confess to having been involved in inappropriate sexual behavior
- 70% of pastors do not have someone they consider a close friend
- 90% report working between 55 to 75 hours a week. (No wonder compassion fatigue is rampant among our leaders.)
So, this week what can you and I do to help? I think that I Timothy 5:17-25 and other passages encourage us to do several things to care for our leaders.
That effort begins (and ends) with a deep, ongoing commitment to pray for our leaders. They are assaulted every single day with temptations that run the gamut from pride to lust and back again. We need to build spiritual hedges around them and prayerfully ensure that the enemy gets no foot hold over that fence. We need to make this a priority!
We also need to communicate with our leaders. Write them encouraging notes. Stop them and share how a message or decision is positively impacting our own life. Let them know how we appreciate the time it takes to explain God’s word so clearly. Let them know that we are reviewing the material so we can apply it to our marriage and family. Let them know we are growing!
We need to make sure and provide for their family needs. We need to pay them well. But we also need to be protecting their family by refusing to participate in gossip about them. Spiritual leaders are struggling with the same stuff everyone else is, they just do it in a fishbowl. We need to join their protection detail and have their best interests at heart.
Let’s shield our leaders. Pray for them. Love on them. Protect their reputations. We need them!