Stress: The Major Killer of Gospel Ministers and Their Wives
This is a long post, but please finish reading it before you like it or comment.
Please don’t comment on what you have not experienced or understand. I have been in very intensive and hectic ministry for close to 25 years, and I have been a doctor for 37 years. I have been a personal physician to pastors for many years. I am passing through the same stress too.
I have read a lot about preachers from, A. A. Allen, Jack Coe, Smith Wigglesworth, Peter Marshall, Kathryn Khulman, Robert Murray McCheyne, and several other ministers.
I have worked closely with many Pentecostal pastors within and outside Nigeria. I have also done a critical review of my personal life and I have come to realize that stress is the major killer of preachers and their wives.
You must have noticed that Pentecostal pastors lose their wives comparatively more than wives of Anglican, Baptist, Methodist and Presbyterian clergymen. The wives of Pentecostal pastors are under too much stress. They will breastfeed babies, do night vigils, go to work, run women’s fellowship meetings, take children to school, satisfy the sexual needs of their husbands, preach, stay like frozen statues in the altars with hundreds of eyes staring at them, and so on.
Pastors wives bear the burden of the financial pressures of their husbands. Forget those cars and the fine shoes and clothes most pastors wives are wearing; many of them are gifts, including the ones I wear. The one I wore in the pictures in this post is a gift from Mudiaga Onajomo, CEO of Mudi Africa, and the shoes are gifts from Chibueze Sj. God bless them.
Their husbands are also under tough financial pressures. In fact, the bigger the church, the more the financial challenges. If you know how much goes in to pay bills and maintenance of church buildings, generators, and workers salaries, you will pity many pastors and their wives, especially the very sincere ones.
There are times many of the big programs with big guest preachers leave big debts behind, and the General Overseer will be under great pressure. That’s why all gimmicks come into ministry from sales of handkerchiefs, anointing oil, stickers, almanacks, healing water, mantles, healing swimming pool fees, and different forms of fundraising.
We, as preachers or pastors, take on too many big projects at the same time. We are under too much comparative and competitive pressure. Not all have committed partners even when they have projects that are too gigantic, especially in Nigeria. You might not understand what I’m saying because pastors are amongst the most jealous and comparative people on earth. We, sometimes, are more interested in sizes, statistics, and status than even worldly people.
Even as branch pastors, your relevance in the headquarters is based on statistics and remittances, instead of service and sincerity to humanity and God. The struggle for relevance and recognition by other pastors, Government, and other people is mostly responsible for the stress.
Pastors like to copy each other as if it’s a business community. If one pastor buys a private jet, others will want to copy. They don’t know the cost of running a private jet, the cost of paying pilots, and the cabin crew. Parking fees and maintenance fees alone can kill a man with a weak heart unless you lease them out to make money. If one pastor starts doing 5 services, the neighbour or friend will also start five services. From my personal observation, a lot of the attendees would be the same; choristers, ushers, and same members, and only one pastor will preach in all the services. To evaluate the stress, check the amount of sweat that comes out of their bodies. If one pastor builds a thirty-thousand-capacity auditorium, his friends want to build forty-thousand- and sixty-thousand-capacity halls. All these put on pressure on them.
I do a radio broadcast on Quest F.M.; if not for my sponsor, I know how much stress it would have put me under, and then imagine what others go through running TV broadcasts on several stations. The cost of running a satellite station runs into millions of Naira.
Pastors hardly take vacations; they do too many long night vigils and fasting programs. How can you do 40-night vigils, and after that, you do another 30-days fast? A lot of these programs are to retain the members and, sometimes, to generate revenue.
Dry fasting without water destroys the kidneys. Another thing that destroys the kidneys is the retention of urine by the senior pastor. He is not expected to leave his seat to go to the restroom. The backward flow of urine up the ureters to the kidneys is harmful.
Sleep deprivation for people above 40 years increases the chances of hypertension, and then, the various back-to-back invitations, for people like me, build up stress hormones that affect all organs of the body.
Every time you stand up to speak, especially if you are known for miracles, there is an enormous release of stress hormones that wear out the body.
I know many young ministers who have drips fixed on them because of exhaustion. I have seen the ones who still went to do church stuff from hospital beds. I am telling you about what I have seen.
Most of these sudden deaths are from cardiac arrests and the consequences of executive fatigue syndrome and burnout syndromes.
Tragically, pastors don’t seek medical attention early because it would be seen as a lack of faith because of our over-exaggeration of our anointing.
When I took the COVID vaccine, religious echoes of their pastors were questioning my anointing and faith in Jesus for taking vaccines. Most of them are so ignorant of medical history, especially the half-educated fanatics. They don’t know that from the time of the smallpox vaccine, those who resisted vaccines suffered dire consequences.
The stress of our over-packaging and the associated pressure of trying to prove that we have arrived makes the hollow in us cave in.
There was a day I was not feeling well, but I still went to preach because I did not want to disappoint the fellows. I became dizzy, and I had to hold the pulpit rail. They taught it was part of my style, but they did not know I was dying.
There was a time I travelled for missionary work in Cross River State, close to the border with Cameroon. I fell sick, but my guests did not know; I had to sit down to talk to them, and they were still ready to listen. Until you collapse, they will be ready to hear from you.
Because of our pride, we don’t share our weaknesses with others until we collapse and die. That’s why deaths during or after preaching are common. The body is a slave to the anointing; unless you use your brain to stop and rest, the joy of ministry can kill you. We need people who can help us to restrain ourselves. I told my lawyer I need one urgently.
Diabetes and other metabolic illnesses are common among pastors because if you are not careful, your members and your hosts would overfeed you with red meat, which is not healthy, and stuff you with a lot of fruit juices with additives and other high-energy food. To make matters worse, you might take energy drinks with caffeine and lots of calories to pep you up.
The Seventh Day Adventist church members live longer than other Christians in Canada and America because of their diet and the Sabbath rest.
Ministry can become a cage.
I am writing from personal experience and deep observation of pastors and their wives. I am reminding myself of the dangers we face as preachers.
*** For further reading look for the book titled ” A man called Peter Marshall”
Please remember to pray for our pastors and their wives.