Desperate, Pastor Gary Stiles slouched on the sofa in my office.
"Dr. Blackmon, our ship is sinking, and if we don't get help fast, we're going under!"
Gary's wife, Sue, sat nearby, crying softly. As their story tumbled out, I felt the pressure of their sleepless nights and 80-hour work weeks.
"Our ministry no longer has any joy or meaning," Gary sputtered.
In twenty years of ministry, they had toiled faithfully in three congregations. Their ministry was acclaimed widely as a success.
In the last year, however, their church had begun to criticize them. Feelings of inadequacy and fatigue began to fester. They buried their pain, keeping their confusion and struggles secret. With nowhere to turn, they desperately needed a confidant.
"I guess my fire has gone out," explained Gary. "Now I'm either angry at every little thing or so tired I can't stand the thought of helping one more person.
"At first I thought if I just worked harder I could turn things around. But that isn't working. Now our marriage ...1