Darrin Patrick, a megachurch pastor, author, and speaker, has died of an apparent “self-inflicted gunshot wound,” according to a statement from his church.
In 2016, Patrick… was fired from The Journey [a six-location megachurch in St. Louis he co-founded, TF] for what church officials said was misconduct, including “inappropriate meetings, conversations, and phone calls with two women” and a pattern of sinful conduct, including lying, abuse of power and lack of self-control.
Patrick went through 26 months of “restoration,” which included spiritual and marriage counseling, ultimately resuming his religious work in a new job as a teaching pastor at Seacoast Church, a megachurch in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.
A friend of his, Bob Oesch, told RNS during an impromptu remembrance that
… Patrick would often ask people who “lived without God in their lives”: “How’s that working for you?” “And that was a great way of getting people to see the value of putting God in their lives,” Oesch said. “I still call it ‘the Darrin question.’”
“A great way of getting people to see the value of putting God in their lives.” Well, sorry, I beg to differ. The question, if that’s how Patrick phrased it, has an unmistakable edge of judgment and condescension to it. It’s what you might ask a habitual drug user or someone with a chronic anger problem (if you didn’t mind coming off as a bit disagreeable). It’s not nearly the same as the neutral “What made you choose that path?” or “Tell me about the pros and cons of that.” Instead, “How’s that working out for you” is a tidy little bouquet of mild aggression and superiority, with a top note of amusement.
It wouldn’t be couth or kind to posthumously ask the deceased pastor how being a fervent fan of God has worked out for him, so instead I’ll just point out that the scourge of clinical depression hangs heavily over America’s clergy.
There is no lack of statistics about pastors and depression, burnout, health, low pay, spirituality, relationships and longevity — and none of them are good. According to the Schaeffer Institute, 70 percent of pastors constantly fight depression, and 71 percent are burned out. Meanwhile, 72 percent of pastors say they only study the Bible when they are preparing for sermons; 80 percent believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families, and 70 percent say they don’t have a close friend.
The Schaeffer Institute also reports that 80 percent of seminary and Bible school graduates will leave the ministry within five years. It’s not clear how many commit suicide, but it is clear that pastors are not immune to it.
Our hearts go out to Pastor Patrick’s loved ones — and to all people, in any profession and from any background, who struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts.
(Screenshot via YouTube)