Pastors must resist the isolation brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, a Tennessee pastor said.
On Wednesday, one Tennessee pastor shared a revelation about what church leaders currently go through. He disclosed the information in the Mental Health + Suicide" session of the 2020 Q&A: A Virtual Townhall event, hosted by Gabe Lyons.
Pastor Scott Sauls, senior pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tennessee, said that the COVID-19 pandemic amplified the loneliness and anxiety that pastors feel. This is because as the coronavirus exempts no one, the negative effects of isolation do not exempt pastors as well.
Sauls revealed in the said event that it's very essential for pastors to fight against isolation, especially in this season. The pandemic, he noted, brought about a kind of situation that could simply be described as a perfect emotional storm for pastors.
Isolation affects church leaders
He cited some of the COVID 19 pandemic effects on church leaders. One of them is the feeling of being "ghosted" by their members that most pastors go through.
He explained that although church members feel the presence of their pastors while hearing and seeing them right from the comfort of their own homes via online church services, leaders feel otherwise.
Since pastors treat the church as a family, the lockdown and the limitations that prevent them from gathering with others in church intensifies the feeling of isolation and loneliness.
Sauls unveiled that suicidal attempts are possible even to church leaders. He said that although he does not go through such struggle, he personally knows some who did so.
He explained that all of the pastors' suicidal cases he heard had the same factor leading them to desperation and taking their own lives - he said that isolation was a "common thread" among all of them.
He added that it was not what these people want, but they chose it out of desperation. They all wanted to be relieved of whatever they are going through: the feeling of being alone.
Sauls shared that most of those church leaders that fell into those traps felt they had more superficial connection with people than genuine friendship. They felt that the connections were more for social media fame with a public platform and worldly show off of the highlight reel.
Although grieving over the said reports, the bestselling author said he comforted himself with the promises of the Gospel that the men who fell to those traps will not be judged with their last acts. Instead, he said he holds on to the last act of Jesus Christ being crucified and defeating the works of darkness.
Steps in combating isolation effects
Sauls explained that amidst the trouble, rest and restoration come by way of reading the bible, taking down notes, and reading them once again. He also pointed out to the power of prayer.
The Tennessee-based pastor said prayer is not to bring God to where we want and bending Him to our will. Instead, it is bending our own will to embrace His will.
Sauls also advised church members to help their leaders by showing up to make pastors feel that they are not alone. He suggested considering it a privilege for a member when pastors find the courage to disclose themselves and be vulnerable.