Dear Struggling Pastor: An Open Letter to Leaders in a Storm

Leadership, Personal Development

Dear Pastor friend,

Storms will savagely barrage against your ship sometimes.

Famines will ravage through the fields of your ministry sometimes.

God will feel distant sometimes.

The deafening silence when you need a Word is as loud in the raging storm as it is in the barren desert.

From my experience and observations, our tendency as pastors when we’re going through great challenges is to project strength to our brothers, and then pull back and isolate away from them.

For many pastors, the loneliest place in the world can be a crowded district conference or sectional event when their soul is under attack. But many pastors who are struggling won’t even make it to those gathering places. They have convinced themselves that it’s better… safer… to be alone.

There is an unspoken demand that a pastor must never show weakness… not to his own congregation, and Lord forbid to another minister. This devilish lie is strategically driven into your mind by your Enemy to isolate you away from your network of strength and encouragement.

I’m reminded of Elijah, running from his people… running from his enemies… and running from God. There in an isolated wilderness, God sent ravens to bring him meat to revive him.

Had Elijah driven those birds away like many broken pastors drive their friends and leaders away, he would have wasted away alone and defeated… like many pastors you know of. 

When people reach out in your struggle, don’t push them away. They don’t come with pity, most likely they just come with compassion. They may or may not have any clue what’s happening in your life, but just felt a nudge from God to send the text, or make the call.

  • Every leader goes through times of discouragement. Every single one.
  • Every leader faces struggles they have no idea how to get through. Every leader.
  • Every leader has their plans unravel before their eyes sometimes, and sees years of labor disintegrate from problems out of their control sometimes. Every single one.

What makes them different from you? Nothing, in regards to circumstances and storms.

The only thing that may be different is that some trusted God when the ravens came.

  • Some nurtured friendships before the storm arrived so that there were extra shoulders to bear the load.
  • Some determined to stay connected within their friends network and attend rallies and fellowships and conferences.
  • They built barns for fellowship and sharpened sickles of relationship, and maintained bridges of advice, because they knew their tendency to get alone when tragedy strikes.

If I were a begging man, I would beg you…

No forget that… I AM a begging man! Paul said it well, “I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God…”

  • …to pick up the phone when the call comes, or just make the call yourself. To not respond to the text with a simple “thanks”, but instead ask for time over coffee.
  • I beseech you to let your weakness show a little so your brothers can help bear your burden.
  • I beg you to trust God enough to let him send ravens of brotherhood in your wilderness.

I’m tired of watching ministers leave the harvest. I’m sick of seeing broken pastors leave their churches. I’m so tired of seeing good men travel alone through the shadowy valleys. I’m sick of a system that shames vulnerability and wags heads at “failure”.

So get up. Connect with the body. Determine that this storm isn’t the end… that this desert is just a place in between the promise and the fulfillment, and that you’re not going to walk through it alone.

At some point, when you neglect the ravens long enough, they’ll forget you’re there. You have to do something about that.