Yo, church. Before slamming Simone Biles, consider the compassion Jesus calls us to. What in the world is wrong with y’all? And that question isn’t just for the church – it’s for everyone. But if you’re part of the church and you’re going after her, consider what Jesus would say.
— Billy Hallowell (@BillyHallowell) July 28, 2021
The debate over Simone Biles’ decision is reminiscent of recent conversations in the church over the mental health of pastors and other ministry leaders. Jarrid Wilson, Steve Austin, and Darrin Patrick are only a few the pastors who have died by suicide in recent years.
After Pastor Andrew Stoecklein took his own life in August 2018, his widow Kayla Stoecklein urged pastors not to neglect their mental health in the midst of their efforts to serve others. “As a pastor, as a leader, you carry so much,” she said. “And you’re trying to be everything for everyone. And you forget that you’re human too.”
Based on her experience as a pastor’s wife, Kayla believes that a lot of church leaders are not good at taking care of themselves in many areas of life. She says, “We often encourage others to seek counseling or exercise or rest or eat better, and we don’t actually do it ourselves.” She emphasizes that pastors must do better at self-care. Otherwise, they won’t be able to minister to other people and then, “it’s just a matter of time before, like Andrew, we hit the wall and we burn out. We must give ourselves permission and margin to heal and rest.”
Simone Biles is showing us what that wisdom looks like—as well as how much resistance to it there still is.