Over the past two weekends, I've run into runaway pastors. Their pain lies only slightly below the surface. Who can they tell?
Last Saturday morning, at a hotel a couple of hundred miles from home, I happened onto an old friend. He's been a pastor for a few decades. He is the picture of success. The congregation he pastors has grown by about 20-30 times. He has many respected positions in his denomination. He is a winner.
But after asking about how he is doing, tears formed in his eyes. Practiced skill kept them from spilling on the table where we sat. Seems to me, he'd like to run away. I heard stories of depression and feelings of "What else can I do to earn a living?" He is a friend. Please pray for him.
Then he told me of a mutual friend who ran away without a plan. A pastor for years, who kept his secret well--the secret pain he felt--until he could no longer. And recently, he followed through on his deepest desire, and quit.
The weekend before last, I met a woman who is married to one who had a secret. After years of ministry--again as a success in all of our eyes--one day he went to the office and quit. She found out later that day. They were not prepared with other jobs. They are seeking them now, and life is hard. But the sense I get is, he wouldn't change a thing.
One pastor tells me of fantasizing of how he could get kicked-out of the ministry, without losing his wife, or going to jail. It was then he made his plan to step aside...instead of running.
We speak a great deal of sharing burdens with each other. We ask for prayer requests, and others release their worries and pains. But we are the wall. We soak in the sound waves and witness the tears and even share them. And we display the same wall of portraits, with our perfect family and our own ever smiling face--even when the smile is fading--or fake.
Most ministers, when they hurt, keep their pain secret. Must they? Who can they tell?