The Death Of A Pastor: How Should We Proceed

Kyle Howell

“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” I’m currently taking our church through one of the most profound, yet seemingly depressing letters in the Bible: Ecclesiastes. You see, the Teacher, Solomon, invites the reader into the journey he took to find meaning and fulfillment in life. The problem was, he was basically putting God on the shelf and was attempting to find what he was looking for in everything “under the sun.” Could life a part from God bring what we’re all grasping for?

I was reading my newsfeed today and noticed something tragic. Jarrid Wilson, a well-known associate pastor of a large church, committed suicide today. This man was a pastor, leader, author, and mental health advocate. He battled with depression, but I mean, he did just that, he fought and strived to help himself and others who struggled the same as he did. So it is extremely difficult not to read this article without the same cynical perspective that Solomon took. Everything is meaningless. The word we translate as meaningless or vanity there comes from the Hebrew word hevel. The Hebrew word means “smoke, vapor, fleeting, temporary, or insubstantial.” The idea that Solomon was trying to convey about his pursuit of meaning was that it was like smoke. It was as if you had it in your reach, but when you tried to grasp it in your hands, it disappeared.

I can’t pretend to know what exactly has been going on in the mind of Jarrid Wilson before he sadly took his own life. I don’t know if he was looking at the world with the same exhausted viewpoint that Solomon was. I don’t know exactly where he was in his life. However, I do know that it broke my heart and awakens a sense of urgency in me to seek out the hurting and broken. You and I both, if we take an honest look at this world, can clearly see that all is not right. As Solomon rightly pointed out, sometimes bad things happen to good people. And sometimes good things happen to bad people. Proverbs speaks in generalizations. Typically if you do what is right, then good will come. Job and Ecclesiastes, however, highlight the times when this is not the case.

Pastors, church leaders, all Christians, church—we are all out there in this broken and shattered world. Sometimes we have it down, then other days what we thought we understood turned out to be hevel. Paul describes the times when the end is coming. He speaks about how we need to be alert and ready and he says in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” Church do we take this calling serious? Do we take it to heart where Paul describes the church as a body and “if one part suffers every part suffers with it?” My prayer is for the church to develop the type of agape love that Paul depicted in Romans 9:3, wishing that he could take the place of his unbelieving people, so they could be saved.

Like I said, there are a lot of emotions when we read about a fellow believer dying so tragically. But what must happen is the church must rise up and surround each other with the love of Christ. It is necessary that we take our role as His people serious and follow His commands to live in community and love with each other. This world is painful and at various times in our lives it can be confusing. None of us have it down perfectly. Nonetheless, let’s commit to always being there for each other. If you hurt, I hurt. Because we are the body of Christ.

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