Accountability: Every Pastor Needs a Pastor
Written by Lydia D’Ross, Ordained Minister and Outreach Chaplain for Renewal at Brookhaven Hospital
Recently a pastor died by suicide. This pastor suffered from depression and was on medication. But one thing was stopping him from overcoming his demons-the pastor felt bound and unable to leave his congregation, not even for a season.
Did the pastor feel less than a person if he told the board “look, I need to step down for a while” Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for the board of a church to object to such a request from a pastor.
The suicide rate can be high this time of year and should be monitored more closely when you know someone is suffering from a mental illness . Depression symptoms are a disruption in their normal daily functions, reporting sudden sadness, lack of appetite or loss of sleep.
According to the Schaeffer Institute, 70 percent of pastors constantly fight depression, and 71 percent are burned out. Meanwhile, 72 percent of pastors say they only study the Bible when they are preparing for sermons; 80 percent believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families; and 70 percent say they don’t have a close friend. (© 2007 (research from 1989 to 2006) R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development)
Pastors must be honest with themselves. It is critical to the success of any church ministry, that pastors have a trusted confidant, outside of the church board and immediate family. This is someone who you trust with your life and they trust you to the same degree. It is a covenant of accountability and partnership. This can be a real support to someone in a position that is vulnerable to compassion fatigue and isolation.