Rev. Mark H. Creech on Pastors Who Are Depressed and Suicidal, and the Parishioners Bewildered by Them

In recent years, it’s alarming the number of pastors who have taken their own lives in suicide. Now there’s been another.  Megachurch associate pastor, Jarrid Wilson, ended his life on the eve of World Suicide Prevention Day, and more ironically, only hours after officiating at the funeral of someone who committed suicide. 

Wilson was 30 years old. He leaves behind a wife, two children, and a lot of bewildered people who wonder how a pastor could do such a thing.

The reasons pastors consider suicide can be quite surprising and revealing.

Greg Laurie, who is the senior pastor at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California, where Wilson served, said: “Sometimes people may think that as pastors or spiritual leaders we are somehow above the pain and struggles of everyday people. We are the ones who are supposed to have all the answers. But we do not. At the end of the day, pastors are just people who need to reach out to God for his help and strength, each and every day.”

The late H.B. London, who served with Focus on the Family, and considered by many as a pastor of pastors, used to stress that being a pastor was a high-profile, high-stress job, with nearly impossible expectations and demands.

“We set the bar so high that most pastors can’t achieve that,” said London. “And because most pastors are people-pleasers, they get frustrated and feel that they can’t live up to that.”

Having been a pastor for twenty years before taking my current position as executive director of the Christian Action League, I can identify with these pressures and the consequential suicidal thoughts.

In Pastors: Mental Illness and SuicideI’ve written before about my own struggles in the 1980s with that dark place of depression that can lead to a bottomless pit of despair.

Statistics provided by the Schaeffer Institute reveal eighty percent of pastors feel unqualified and discouraged in their role. Fifty percent are so discouraged they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living. Seventy percent constantly fight depression. Eighty percent believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families, while seventy percent say they don’t have a close friend.

Although I’m no expert in the mental health field, I can speak from my own experience and say that being a pastor can be the hardest job in the world. The pastor may frequently deal with seemingly insurmountable setbacks stemming from church politics and impossible parishioners.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Rev. Mark H. Creech