Hosanna | Marantha: Darrin Patrick’s Death and a Moment for Change—Updated

The Christian Post whose article I used to confirm the story (after hearing from friends who knew Darrin) updated their article this evening: “The investigation is ongoing and it’s unknown whether the self-inflicted gunshot wound was ‘intentional or unintentional,’ a representative from the church told The Christian Post on Saturday.

Self-inflicted gunshot wound” has a specific meaning. Here is a definition:

Though it seems that Seacoast’s is using gentle language to share a horrific reality, Ed Stetzer wrote this wisdom today that I am taking to heart:

Darrin died from a “self-inflicted gunshot wound.” I know that has caused some people to want more details—to use language that is more precise and to provide added details. And, as you can tell from the statement, the situation is confusing. Seacoast Church shared, ““Darrin was target shooting with a friend at the time of his death. An official cause of death has not been released but it appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. No foul play is suspected.”

“it is important to let families communicate the way they are comfortable. Families grieve in complex ways—and right now, they owe nothing to the rest of us. We just owe them our prayers.

I am changing the title to reflect the Christian Post update and to follow Ed’s example. Darrin was a leader who understood that a different way of doing church was needed for pastors. He was a voice for authenticity and change. It’s in that spirit, I offer this essay. His life was too short. Let’s use this moment to not just help pastors but help the churches they lead. —Ron Citlau 5/9/20, 1145pm

I heard today that another pastor took his life. I am so sad for him, his family and his church. I am also sad for the church and for pastors. It seems that either through moral failings, burnout or tragedy, pastors are being crushed by devils, moral immaturity and deep pain. How can this be?

Hosanna | Marantha

He of course made his own decision and not a good one, but mutual friends tell me that he is a godly man; there is comfort in that. But the longer I am a pastor, the more I believe that the modern church is complicit in the burnout, moral failings and even the suicides of pastors.

Hosanna | Marantha

In a performance driven society, the church has embraced secular notions of professionalism and success. The pastor is just another seller of goods. The goal is bigger, better and more success than the church down the street. He must meet certain expectations of his customers or they will buy from somewhere else. So, he must be “put together”, “have all the answers”, “be available”, “look the part”—socially, emotionally, physically and spiritually, and always “be on with a smile”. Since pastoring is a life and not a job, he can never live up to the demands of his customers. He can never appease all the complaints. Success is just as dangerous in this consumer, entertainment, church world. This kind of church commands adherence to “the way we do things” or the deification of gifted leaders. Unless a pastor is grounded in significant ways and has a support system, the pastor-person splits between the public self and the hidden self.

Hosanna | Marantha

The public self is the performer and salesman. Everyone loves him. In fact, many churches demand to only see him. The hidden self is the place the pastor-person seeks to numb himself from pressures and pain. There he uses illicit substances, embraces lust, or he is confronted with the hell of self. He is alone because his religious world at church supports such a decision. He hides because since Adam and Eve, we all want to hide from the light. When there is hiding and a system that makes it possible, it creates a reality where authenticity is not possible.

Hosanna | Marantha

When you see the moral failings of successful leaders or a tragic suicide, know that the hidden-self has exploded onto the scene. The pastor-person is responsible for choosing hiddenness; no one makes us do anything. But the church is complicit for asking from pastors what they cannot give.

Hosanna | Marantha

Early on as a pastor three men taught me never to pretend—Charlie Contreras, Todd Hunter and Andrew Comiskey. My elders graciously have again and again reinforced this important truth and for that I am beyond thankful. They have all taught me to be the same on the outside as I am on the inside—morally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. If I’m good then I am good . If I’m struggling then that’s ok too. They taught me that a Christian leader doesn’t perform, he follows Jesus and invites others to do the same. This isn’t a “don’t worry about about sin and pain”. Instead, they know what many of us forget: Jesus transforms real people, not shadow people. Pretending is a great path into the pit.

Hosanna | Marantha

They taught me and remind me, it’s the inside that matters more than anything else. God willing, I’ll take that lesson to my grave.

Hosanna | Marantha

Most pastors are called, burdened and faithful. They work in ways you never see, deal with realities that you can’t imagine and work as hard as anyone who loves his calling can. I find very few lazy pastors.

Hosanna | Marantha

No pastor worth his weight will complain about his work (at least publicly). It’s a calling, he knows that he’s following Jesus, and it is a great honor to work with the master. But know this, the calling comes with many hidden sufferings. The amazing sermons come from great pain. The wisdom has been born through trials. Even laughter often has sadness underneath it.

Hosanna | Marantha

Darrin’s tragic suicide is a canary in the coal mine. How many more do we need? If your pastor is worse off after leading your church, don’t blame him alone. You are a co-conspirator.

Hosanna | Marantha

What does it matter if the church is big, the speaker is amazing and you feel fed, if that church does not love? It’s worthless. It has failed. Worse, it crushes people, pastors and says to the world that we are just a religious commodity.

Hosanna | Marantha

We must again learn the way of love, the way of Jesus. Let that be the metric for success and the guide. Let’s make sure our communities look like 1 Corinthians 13. Love your pastor, love one another, love the world and love your Lord. Nothing else matters.

Hosanna | Marantha

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4 thoughts on “Hosanna | Marantha: Darrin Patrick’s Death and a Moment for Change—Updated”

  1. In the close aftermath of tragedy, of the death of a loved one, this is not the time to assign blame. The language used in this blog “co-conspirators” is one of shaming and not mercy. It is not up to anyone to reframe how anyone’s loved ones nor colleagues, nor affiliates of any kind should share the news of a tragedy. I have personally traveled many grief journeys and have caregiven to loved ones and experienced the murder of my cousin. There is a time and a place. And in the rawness of suffering – as Christians – we are called to give mercy and support. Not analysis, blame, accusation, nor philosophical ponderings on “what ifs”. Simply – this is not the time for “indictment.” In the throes of tragedy, shock, and grief, we are called to be mercy givers. It is not only Christian to do do, but simply the very least we can do as fellow humans.

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