Darryl's thoughts on the Christian Faith, Facts, and World Events
Christians, much less Christian leaders (pastors, missionaries, etc.), do not just wake up one morning, and out of the blue, decide to fall (apostatize/leave Christianity, sexual sin, financial sin, or suicide etc.). Instead, for Christian leaders, many of whom have dedicated their lives and livelihoods to serving Christ, the path to a fall can begin with a single discouragement, disappointment, unanswered prayer, uncomforted pain, or unmet need etc..
The Apostle Paul talked about, a "thorn in the flesh," a "messenger of Satan" (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)." As one who has been in some kind of formal Christian leadership role for most of the time since 1999, I have experienced and continue to experience various "thorns in the flesh" or "messengers of Satan" that if left untreated, could lead to serious spiritual and emotional infections. As a son of, a brother of, and a friend of many pastors and missionaries, (some of whom have fallen to various degrees), in retrospect, I can see that their "falls" started with something small but no one noticed until one day, one straw broke the camel's back.
If we see "falls" by Christian leaders not as one huge, and therefore impossible to solve problem, but as a bunch of small problems (or "straws"), that are not only possible to prevent, but even to reverse, this is the most crucial step. Then we can take a breath, roll our sleeves up, and help prevent Christian leaders from falling and help those, who are willing to be restored, to rise again in some form. Of course to do this, we must not be afraid to "get our hands dirty." Jesus got his hands dirty too, when he touched the lepers and healed others, we must become like Him.
The Good Samaritan also is a good example because he was not restrained by his schedule, business interests, or even ceremonial cleanliness. He picked up the wounded traveler and probably got his clothes stained with the stranger's blood. The priest and the levite stayed clean, kept their schedules, and went on their merry way, but they missed God's best for that day. This is a choice we must make. If a Christian leaders is drowning in discouragement, we cannot just stay on the safety of the shore and shout, "Swim!". Instead, lifeguards always are willing to get wet, regardless of the weather.
Here are a few practical things we can say and do for your Christian leaders that will help us (them) not to fall.
1. Remind us that we are humans and that we can have pains and weaknesses etc. too.
2. Don't put us on a pedestal instead keep your arms around us to show us love and help us not to stumble.
3. Be a safe person that we can share our discouragements, doubts, fears, and temptations with without fear of judgement or rejection.
4. Don't let us get away with saying that we are "fine" all the time. Ask us how we really are doing.
5. If we need help, then do what you can to help us personally. But, if the need is too great don't feel paralyzed. Just do what you can safely, and possibly team up with others to help us move our heavy loads. If that still isn't enough then tear a hole in the ceiling to get us to Jesus (Luke 5).
A Christian Apologist, Author, Missionary, Husband, and Father. Darryl has an MA in Christian Apologetics from Biola University (CA), an MA in TESOL from Azusa Pacific University (CA), and a BA in Political Science from Truman State University (MO).