Helping Suicidal Pastors

Dr. Randy Davis serves as the Executive Director of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, so I asked for his response to these pastor-suicides:

Unless you have been a pastor it is very difficult to understand the burden of ‘shepherding the flock’ and all the demands that comes with it. I believe that’s why God specifically promised men like Moses, Joshua, David, Paul and Nehemiah that He would be with them. He promised all of the rest of us that He would not leave us or forsake us. If there was one thing I want every pastor to know it is this: You are not alone.

3. Ask the Lord for Healing

The primary difference between Peter’s denial and Judas’ treason was that Peter asked for help. Peter chose repentance over remorse, healing over hopelessness and life over death.

Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail (Luke 22:31-32).

I honestly do not know how much of depression is physical, mental and spiritual. I am convinced however that Jesus is Lord of all three aspects of our lives. Jesus is still praying for our good and His glory.

4. Use Your Struggle to Help Others

Helping other pastors find mental health is sometimes challenging because of the stigma associated with depression. I often use my testimony to blow that stigma out of the room so that pastors will have a safe place to seek help.

And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers (Luke 22:32).

Pastor Parker’s longtime pastor friend Dewey Smith told The Christian Post, “It’s difficult for some preachers to be honest. Every pastor needs a pastor to kind of lead and guide them.”

I have led two church staff members who attempted suicide, one of whom succeeded. Both were under clinical supervision. In your attempts to help suicidal pastors or others, try not to take on the role of savior or specialist—ust be available to help them find both.

{Focus on the Family has a free, confidential Pastoral Care Line available on weekdays from 8:00 a.m.–10:00 p.m. EST: 1-844-4PASTOR (844-472-7867). They also offer referrals for licensed Christian counselors in your area, or you can reach their counselors online by filling out a Counseling Request Form.}  

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Mark Dance
Mark Dance serves as associate vice president for pastoral leadership at LifeWay Christian Resources. A native Texan, Mark pastored churches in Texas, Tennessee, and Arkansas before joining LifeWay. He has been married to Janet Kendrick since 1988, and they have two children: Holly and Brad.