It was troubling to read about a Pastor who committed suicide while his 800 member church family awaited his arrival. Suicide is devastating at all times. In this instance a calamity seems to have preceded the suicide. That earlier calamity is perhaps sadder than the suicide.
A long-time clerical friend of the pastor who committed suicide identified how difficult it is for a pastor to find a fellow pastor as an accountability partner:
“Every pastor needs a pastor to kind of lead and guide them. But it’s hard for us to really find that relationship because often pastors are trying to compete with or cremate you. And so it’s difficult to find camaraderie”
There is a tragedy here in the two extremes “compete or cremate”.
It is very healthy for a pastor to have a fellow to share with. Downloading matters of concern to a proficient other can be done confidentially and respectfully. It can lead to prayer, growth and spiritual support. Sharing may arise from stressors of administration or stressors of problematic congregants. To quote a popular maxim: ‘A problem shared is a problem halved’. Some denominations mandate that pastors have an accountability partner, others actively promote the notion.
It is a catastrophic that pastors perceive rivalry between each other (“compete”), or perceive that the rivalry sets to spoil each other’s work (“cremate”). The harvest field is huge and the Lord’s work aplenty. Accordingly, all in ministry should actively encourage one another and take gladness first in the fulfilment of God’s glory.
It is the undesired intrusion of the world into clerical careers that proliferates the two extremes of “compete or cremate”. Pastors need put aside notion of reward in this life for the bountiful reward that awaits them eternally in God’s presence.
For crisis support: www.lifeline.org.au, phone: 13 11 14