Can you imagine a pastor who was called by God into full-time ministry, who loves Jesus and loves the people of the church—reaching the point where he thinks about ending his own life? I couldn’t imagine such a thing—until it happened to me.
I devoted the first two decades of my full-time pastoral ministry to one church. Because of my zeal for serving the Lord, I violated the ministry boundaries I’d been warned about in seminary. I worked too many hours. I put the church before my family to please everyone I served. I always had energy to do more. But things changed on May 10, 1999 when I listened for hours to church members saying: “you can’t preach very well,”. . . “you can’t lead very well,” . . . “you don’t care about people very much,” . . . “the only ministry you really care about is Celebrate Recovery.” It didn’t help when several members concluded by saying, “But we love you.”
I was devastated! My heart was crushed. I fell into the pit of despair. After devoting my heart and soul to the church for twenty years—I felt torn apart by the people I’d worked so hard to build up. I was so deeply wounded that I found myself wondering if I could go on. My daughter Sarah, who was away at college at the time, pleaded with me, “Dad, you’ve got to get out of there—they’re killing you!” My wife Sue was so wounded, she refused to be seen in public for a time. She avoided people, not knowing who to trust. For two years, Sue went through the motions of church. She continued leading the nursery, and leading the video production team. But she couldn’t worship next to people who so deeply wounded her husband and family.
I felt so alone. I didn’t know what to do with my emotions. I was supposed to be a strong leader with unwavering faith—but I didn’t know what to do. I thought about ending it all. I didn’t know where to go for help, or who I could trust. I needed a pastor! I needed someone confidential, who would listen to my story, understand my pain, and minister healing grace in my life with tenderness, compassion, and love.
There were three pastors who reached out to me in my brokenness. They were filled with God’s love, grace and mercy. They connected me with Dr. John Walker at Blessing Ranch in Livermore, CO. God used Dr. John Walker to lead us through a process of healing, restoration, and renewal. Without this intervention in my life and Sue’s life, I would no longer be in ministry, our marriage may not have survived, and it’s possible that I wouldn’t be here today. God healed and transformed Sue and me from the inside out through His ambassadors of grace, mercy, and love.
What is your story?
Have you experienced a forced exit from pastoral ministry? Has the conflict between you and the Board or a handful of disgruntled church members escalated to the boiling point? Has the love of power, money and control, by a small handful of people in the church driven you to the point of considering leaving ministry altogether? Are you feeling angry, betrayed, abused, or abandoned. Are you feeling alone and isolated? Perhaps you are surprised or even frightened by the feelings and emotions that are raging inside you?
Friend, you need a safe, confidential person who has walked in your shoes and understands your pain. You need someone who will listen to you long enough for you to share your story in detail, without checking their watch or offering you advice. I would be honored to be that person for you. When you send me your name and contact information, I will call you.