Why Are Pastors Struggling with Suicide?

After the outpouring of responses to our pastors and suicide episode a few months ago, Gary Wilkerson answers some of the questions that viewers sent in about the nature of depression. He also addresses some misconceptions surrounding suicide, particularly in the church. As Gary responds to viewer comments and questions, he also encourages believers with specific ways they can find healing for this kind of deep hopelessness.

Key Questions from the Podcast

  • Are pastors above struggling with depression and suicide?
  • Are pastors caring enough for their own souls?
  • Do Christians rely too heavily on conferences and revivals rather than a consistent daily relationship with God?
  • Why does it seem like only Christians, and not other religions, struggle with depression and suicide?
  • Are pastors and others who are depressed or commit suicide possessed by the devil?

Notable Quotes from the Podcast

Pastors usually don't realize that they have to care for themselves. They feel like being a good pastor means you take care of everybody else before yourself. We take on more responsibility than we should. We try to fix people's problems when it's not up for us to fix. We feel responsible if something is not fixed right, we get full of self-doubt and criticism. – Gary Wilkerson

Pastors are getting criticized a lot and if they have a tendency, like I've had in the past, to be self-critical then you've got three strikes against you. You've got yourself criticizing you, your congregation, and then certainly the enemy, the devil, criticizing you. That's just too much for any one person to bear and it'll take you down. – Gary Wilkerson

I want to encourage people to realize pastors are human. They're not gods, mini-gods. They're people. They're just trying to be a step out to help bring us along. – Gary Wilkerson

There is nothing wrong with revivals. I've gone to conferences and meetings where I've been refreshed, but if you're looking for that to be your source of life it's not going to get you there. Spiritual disciplines are more important. – Gary Wilkerson

I tend to wake up, and I think a lot of people do, wake up having to revive themselves a little bit. The Bible says David encouraged himself in the Lord. Well, if he encouraged himself in the Lord, he must have been discouraged. I recommend people wake up in the morning and encourage themselves. – Gary Wilkerson

God is love. God can judge and God can have wrath and will have wrath in the future as well but that's not who he is. It's something he will bring forth from His character or nature but His character in His divine essence is love. He loves these pastors and He loves them up to the last second when He's trying to rescue them from this malady and from this sickness and from this pain that they're in. – Gary Wilkerson

Bible Verses Referenced in the Podcast

And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God. – 1 Samuel 30:6

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. - Lamentations 3:22-23

Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has the health of the daughter of my people not been restored? - Jeremiah 8:22

And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her. – John 8:7

Resources Mentioned in the Podcast

About Gary Wilkerson

Gary Wilkerson is the President of World Challenge, an international mission organization that was founded by his father, David Wilkerson. He is also the Founding Pastor of The Springs Church, which he launched in 2009 with a handful of people. He has traveled nationally and internationally at conferences and conducted mission ventures such as church planting, starting orphanages, clinics, feeding programs among the poorest of the poor and the most unreached people of the earth. Gary and his wife Kelly have four children and live in Colorado Springs, CO.