I write this post as one who has served as a senior pastor, associate pastor and interim pastor. I know the times when I desperately wanted the increased prayers of my church for various reasons, but I was too private and arrogant to ask.
Based on my life and years of interactions with pastors, here are some signs you might watch for:
1. Pulling Away From People
Pastors who begin to disconnect from their people are likely dealing with something. Whatever it is, seclusion is seldom the answer.
2. Disorganization in Sermons
Pastors whose sermons unexpectedly begin to lose focus need our prayers. Something’s likely in the way of preparation.
3. Less Passion in the Pulpit
This one’s a subjective assessment, but you know when your pastors lack the fervor they used to have.
4. Fewer Stories of Day-to-Day Evangelism
When we carry heavy burdens—or are even dealing with private sin—we do less evangelism. That’s not a good sign.
5. Difficulty Listening
You know the scenario: You’re talking to someone, and that person is looking right past you. Pastors who no longer listen well are probably dealing with something else in their head.
6. Quickly Becoming Frustrated
I’ve seen the most patient, giving pastors surprisingly lose their cool when other issues are weighing on them.
7. Unfinished Tasks
Leaders who are increasingly distracted often fail to complete tasks they almost always finished in less-stressed days.
It happens to all of us on some days, but struggling pastors are often more inclined to forgetting their commitments, appointments, etc.
9. Burdened Spouse
Sometimes you can first tell something’s heavy because you see the weight in the eyes of the pastor’s spouse. A family is at times more obviously burdened than the pastor is.
When seemingly distracted pastors deny they’re dealing with something, that very denial should be a call to prayer. Take the signal—and hit your knees on behalf of your pastor.
What might you add to this list?
Chuck Lawless is dean and vice president of graduate studies and ministry centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, and global theological education consultant for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. This article was originally published on ChuckLawless.com.