Hope for the Depressed Pastor

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You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book? (Psalm 56:8)

Yesterday evening my heart was grieved to read the news of the death of Jarrid Wilson; a high profile, 30-year-old pastor from California, who took his own life Monday evening after a long battle with depression.  News like this is as tragic as it comes.  The darkness of depression is very real, and Christians are in no way immune from experiencing it.  Neither are pastors, as Wilson’s death demonstrates.

I didn’t know Jarrid Wilson or know much about his ministry, but I have experienced something of the darkness of depression and deep discouragement in pastoral ministry, and I know that depressed and discouraged pastors are far more common than many understand.  One of main reasons that depression, despondency, and discouragement become very real possibilities for those in pastoral ministry is that ministry is filled (as all of life is) with innumerable sorrows that no one in this life will ever see or acknowledge, but God.… Continue reading

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Reprise: Root Your Faith In The Old Testament

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I recently finished up the first part of a two part preface to a planned verse by verse exposition of the Gospel of John and this past Sunday, I started on part two. I don’t think that is so unusual, especially among churches where preaching and teaching is taken seriously. In churches devoted to expository preaching introductory messages are often preached before a new sermon series. What is unusual is that part one of this preface was a verse by verse exposition of all of the Servant songs of Isaiah and part two will be an exposition of all of the songs of ascent, Psalms 120-134.  I began this preface in mid-August and Lord willing it will wrap up some time around the beginning of April.… Continue reading

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Called To Ministry?

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One of the oddest questions I get asked is how I knew I was called to ministry. I say it is odd because it assumes some kind of mystical experience by which I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was set apart by God to minister, in a vocational sense, to His people. Simply put, there is nothing in Scripture that indicates that is the way God tells people to pursue vocational ministry.

Now some do have some kind of experience where they suddenly have an overwhelming feeling that they should pursue vocational ministry. But, as in all things, feelings are never to be regarded as authoritative or even necessarily true.… Continue reading

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My Wife Doesn’t Like Bacon!

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It is true, my wife doesn’t like bacon (I know it is pretty shocking). She doesn’t like green (lime?) dots either. Or Jazz. Or Mel Brooks movies. Or wool socks.  All things I love. But that in no way make her less than me, just different than me.

Usually I do the cooking at home. And the shopping. She picks out the furniture and the décor. That doesn’t make me less than my wife, I just do different things in the home.

On Sunday at church, I preach and she prays for me while I preach and sometimes mans the soundboard.  That in no way makes me better than her, it just means that we have different roles in the church.… Continue reading

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6 Questions to Help Pastors Assess Their Spiritual Health

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Later this month by God’s grace, I will reach my six-year anniversary as the preaching pastor of my local church.  I realize that this is not an incredibly long time and that compared to many faithful pastors, I’m still a snot-nosed kid with all kinds of things yet to learn.  Yet, I actually find it astonishing that I’ve made it this far.  Truly, this is all of grace.  I say that because I’ve come to realize that being in ministry poses a myriad of threats to a man’s spiritual health.

I remember hearing it said somewhere that ministry will either make you a better man, or a far worse one.  Like Paul discusses in 2 Corinthians 12, the privilege of knowing the Lord and the riches of his revelation, can easily become a source of pride and puff a man up with great conceit.  There is no guarantee that your soul will thrive in ministry; despite the hours you may spend in the serious study and proclamation of Scripture, and the number of people you counsel with the Word, and even the effectiveness of your ministry.  You can actually be a very effective pastor while your spiritual health is failing miserably.  That’s just the way the cookie of God’s mysterious Providence sometimes crumbles.  It is very easy for pastors to do ministry in a way that does not cultivate their spiritual health, and in fact hinders it.  Mining Scripture exclusively for teaching material, giving counsel to others that you do not personally live by, putting in extra hours at the office to escape from other responsibilities, ministering to the church to the neglect of your family; these are just some of the ways you can be very busy as pastor and very unhealthy as a Christian.… Continue reading

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