It’s been a very sad week.
I received word earlier this week that Kim Hall, who for 20 years served as Sr. Pastor of Hunter’s Glen Baptist Church in Plano, TX, committed suicide last weekend. I am somewhat removed from news in the Dallas area but am on Twitter and follow many pastors and a few other Christian-specific news agencies. Frankly, I’ve been a bit astonished at the lack of any kind of conversation or expressions of sympathy that I’ve seen. Surely there are communities of pastoral leadership out there where there have been. I just haven’t seen it.
Regardless of whatever the circumstances were which led to Pastor Hall taking his life, a comrade has fallen, a fellow warrior has gone down, and it has been too quiet. We should be talking about it. I don’t mean talk of speculation about why he may have pulled the trigger, but why life had to arrive at such a painful place that the desire to end his private pain was greater than his desire to continue living and ministering.
There’s just too much silence. It’s the same silence that continues to persist regarding most any pastor who is wounded- whether the wounds are of his own making or not. After all these years of high rates of burnout and ministerial turnover- in other words, ministerial pain- why do denominations still not offer much real help? In my own denomination, our state organization has an entire department dedicated to pastoral leadership and yet offers nothing more than a list of “counselors in your area?”
As a pastor, when you hear of such news, what does it make you feel like inside your heart? Do you grieve? Do you hurt for his family and his church? Do you wonder what could have been done to prevent it from ever happening? I wonder, do you remain silent because of your own fear? Does it remind you of a time or two when you may have had your own fleeting thoughts of suicide? To the point that when you hear such news you privately think to yourself, “I understand how he might have gotten to that terrible place…”?
We sure don’t want to talk about THAT. Yet, pastors need to talk. We must talk. We must have a safe place with safe people where we can share our hurts and struggles and know that we will be loved, supported, and encouraged. We need a place where we know we have friends we can trust. We need our own relationships through which Christ’s healing can flow into one another’s hearts.
I know we’re all busy, but we’re probably too busy when it comes to taking steps to guard our emotional health. Just as you do for your physical health, consider investing time in your emotional health. Commit to participate with a group of fellow pastors that gathers just for that purpose. Pledge your confidentiality to one another. Talk, share, grieve, laugh, and pray together. Experience God’s healing together.
There are many ways to do that but one way is in a CPR group- Celebrate Pastors in Recovery. A CPR group utilizes the Step Study curriculum of Celebrate Recovery to make it a sort of “hybrid”- half Step Study group, half support group. Go to cprpastors.com and let us know you’re interested by completing the brief survey.
Hess serves as Senior Pastor of Southern Hills Baptist Church in Tulsa and champions the cause of CPR – Celebrate Pastors in Recovery (a little brother of Celebrate Recovery).