Below is a great article on how to talk to someone who has experienced and is living with suicide With the death of Rick Warren’s son this will probably be a hot topic in many circles. This article does a great job give advice on how to talk, interact, and offer support to those who are dealing with the suicide of a loved one.
In one of my files I have a great sermon that a minister preached at the funeral of one of his church members who died of suicide. In it he says, “In that moment _________ lost sight of the promise that was made by God at his baptism, but today we can rest assured that God has never forgotten.” That has always stuck with me and if or when I am called upon to do a service like that, I will be quoting that exact phrase.
All pastors should be prepared and ready for when this happens in our congregations. Chances are it will if it hasn’t already.
Here is the final post, part five, of this series, Avoid Becoming the Pastor You Swore You’d Never Be. Here are the other four posts if you are interested, Part I, Part II, Part III and Part IV. From the pages of The Unofficial United Methodist Handbook for Pastors, p. 25.
You are a person. (‘Fashion your life in accordance with [the] precepts [of the gospel of Jesus Christ]….) Putting “The Reverand” in front of your name does not remove you from the list of human beings. You eat, sleep, think of (and maybe act on) sex, get tired, and get bored.
- Be phony. You are holy only because Christ makes you holy. He – not we- is, after all, the perfecter of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2)
- Be one-dimensional. There’s more to life than church stuff. For example, what was the last book you read that had nothing do do with church? (This book, obviously, is an exception. Not only should you read it eagerly but you should also give copies to your 100 closet friends.)
- Have a life. That’s what Christ wants to give you abundantly (John 10:10b) That’s what Christ has freed you for. Know your family. Stay healthy.
- Relax. Play. Life is short.
- Find a time management tool that works for you. It might be a book, a program, or a persistent friend who will nag you to the glory of God.
Here is part four of this five part series on how to avoid becoming the pastor you swore you’d never become. This week we look at being a prophet. From p.24 in The Unofficial United Methodist Handbook for Pastors:
You are a prophet. (“Leading the people of God in obedience to mission in the world, to seek justice, peace, and freedom for all people…”) The best biblical understanding of ‘prohet’ is “one who speaks for another.’ Your prophetic task is to move yourself, your flock, and society into alignment with God’s will and God’s coming reign.
- Assume that you are a prophet just because you have been run out of four churches. An effective prophet will choose her or his ‘fights.’ A common error for beginning pastors is to see all issues as being of equal importance. They are not. (See Romans 14:1)
- Worry too much about keeping people happy. The word ‘happy’ does not appear in the examination at ordination. ‘Faithful’ is a better standard.
- Identify those persons in your community who are not present when your congregation gathers. Ask: Why are they not here? Would Jesus welcome them? How do we show hospitality?
- Remember the Wesleyan tradition of social holiness. Help your flock attend to loving the neighbor who can be seen and then neighbor who cannot be seen. The ‘sacred worth’ of persons is not defined by sexual orientation, national boundaries, economic conditions, or gender.
“You are priest. (“Faithfully administering the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion; by leading the people of God in worship and prayer…”) Ever since God set apart Aaron and his sons to be priests (Exodus 28:1), the people of God have understood that God calls some men and women to a representative ministry from the priesthood of all believers. It is like what happens at Christmas when the entire family receives a gift but asks one member of the family to open it. Sacraments are finally about the work of God.DON’T· Think you are especially pure and holy because you have sacramental authority. Robes and albs and stoles do not make you better than anyone else; they are sings of what God is trying to do through you. (LOVE THIS!!)
· Hesitate to offer prayers in homes, hospitals, highways, hedges, helicopters, headquarters (and even places that don’t begin with ‘h’). It is better to leave a situation mumbling to yourself, ‘I wish I had not prayed aloud’ than to leave saying, ‘I wish I had prayed aloud.’
DO· Find times when you can worship and receive the Eucharist under someone else’s priesthood.
· Make the sacraments life regularly (John Wesley said ‘constantly’) available to your people.”
You are pastor. (“Exercising pastoral supervision of the people committed to your care, ordering the life of the congregation, counseling the troubled in spirit…”)
The word ‘pastor’ can mean ‘shepherd,’ one who watches over the flock, the congregation. A shepherd learns to recognize cries for help (even when they sound like anger); a shepherd offers gentle redirection for a lamb going astray; a shepherd organizes life within the sheepfold.
- Underestimate the tools of your trade: The Word, prayer, and the sacraments. These are not second best. Few physicians, counselors, or gurus offer these life-giving things.
- Think of the pastor’s office as a chance for you to do your own thing. The ordered life of the church includes disciplined accountability. In the United Methodist Church, this includes the authroity of The Book of Discipline.
- Remember the difference between whom you serve and for whom you work. You serve a congregation, but you work for God.
- Keep in mind the basics. People need what pastors provide – a word from God, prayers, dependable sacramental promises, and a church relationship that is lived out ‘decently and in [good] order.’ (1 Corinthians 14:40).