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Ministry Moments Blog
From Josh Hodges, Leader Care facilitator in the metro Phoenix area. For more information, visit leadercareaz.com.
Recently, heart breaking news surfaced. The lead pastor of Inland Hills Church in Chino, California, Pastor Andrew Stoecklein, committed suicide. This is devastating news anytime it occurs. But, it is especially difficult when it is a fellow pastor. Honestly, I’ve thought about this for several days, uncertain of the appropriate response. However, I am certain that I should respond to this tragedy in some fashion. This story hits a little too close to home. So, for that reason, I thought I might share a brief portion of my story…
Nearly 19 years ago to the day of Pastor Andrews death, I sat on the end of my bed as a senior in high school, sobbing, waiting on the news that my father, a pastor, had killed himself. That news never came as police were able to take my father into custody before he was able to harm himself or anyone else. By the grace of God my father is alive today.
You see, my father had been struggling with depression and anxiety for months. From reports on social media, it appears Pastor Andrew was suffering from similar bouts. Chances are at least some who read this can reflect on a time when they endured similar struggles. Fortunately for me my father is still alive, but our family has never been the same. Andrew’s wife and small children have a different battle to face now. Pray and pray with deep conviction for this family as they grieve.
Pastor, though it may be difficult to see today, your service has eternal value. If you are currently struggling under the weight of some dark thoughts, don’t carry that burden alone. Would you please reach out to someone, anyone?! It doesn’t make you less of a pastor, less of a Christian, less of a father, husband, or even a man. You’ve accepted a calling on your life to serve the image bearers of the one true God, and to serve the body of Christ. It may feel lonely in your pursuit of peace, but you are not alone. It’s time to let others serve you during this difficult season.
By God’s grace and mercy, if this doesn’t currently describe you, please consider reaching out to a pastor friend today. In the army we never did anything alone. Everywhere we went and everything we did was with a “battle buddy.” Brothers it is time to stop waging war with the enemy on our own. It’s time to lock arms and confront the enemy head on, connected and united in brotherhood, for the sake of your own personal health, your family, the congregation you lead, and the kingdom of God!