Pastors, Pastors’ Wives, Depression, and Suicide

5 Minute Read 

I’ve been writing about depression and suicide among those in ministry for years. You can find many of my articles on this website. It is so close to my heart because I know what it’s like to walk through the valley of the shadow of death and suffer from severe depression and entertain thoughts of suicide. I also realize the pressures of ministry that pastors and their wives face that they cannot share with anyone in their congregation. So, I have written much about it on this website.

Last October, I wrote an article that specifically highlighted “Ten Challenges of Being a Pastor’s Wife.” Every day, women type things like “difficulties of being a pastor’s wife” or “challenges of being a pastor’s wife” into an internet search engine, and it takes them to my article. In fact, my article has been accessed so many times (clear evidence that pastors’ wives are struggling) that Google has placed it at the top of the search results page. One wife of a pastor told me that she was contemplating suicide when she came across what I wrote. Many others have thanked me for giving them a voice.

Whether you know it or not, the odds are high that your pastor and/or his wife is struggling right now. The church, which is a place of healing for so many that show up to worship, is ironically the place that harms (and sometimes kills) the pastor and his wife in ways that non-ministry persons cannot understand. And this was taking place long before COVID.

If the average church member was asked what they think causes stress, and possibly even depression and suicidal thoughts in their pastor and his wife, they would be at a loss for words. Yet, I am working on a book right now about pastors’ wives in which I highlight no fewer than 23 debilitating struggles that they typically experience behind the curtain of church life. I suspect that most pastors’ wives would read through that list and say, “Yes! I have felt that way!” while church members (not in ministry) would say, “Really? You actually feel that way?” I want to be a voice and help pastors and their wives, especially those who are struggling in some really dark emotional places.

I was pleasantly surprised this morning to see that Carey Nieuwhof did a podcast on this issue, giving pastors and their wives a voice. From my experience and research, he only touched the tip of the iceberg. Still, at least he added to the conversation.

Even if you are not a pastor or married to a pastor, consider watching this interview. Listen to what is said. And then look for ways that your church can “pastor” your pastor and his wife. Look for ways to help them to experience emotional health and realize that in doing so, you are also blessing the church that your pastor leads.

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I have an incredible wife that God gave to me on May 10, 1997. Since then, the Lord has blessed us with three wonderful boys. I am also the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Polk City, Florida.

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