Perry Noble, the former senior pastor of NewSpring Church, has opened up about his struggle with alcohol, referring to himself as a "hypocrite" who practiced the opposite of what he preached.
As earlier reported, Noble, who founded the 30,000 member-church in 1998, was asked to step down from the pulpit due to alcohol abuse and other undisclosed issues over the summer. In a Facebook video published shortly thereafter, Noble announced he had begun treatment and is taking "additional steps" to overcome his issues.
This week, the pastor gave his followers an update for the first time in months, explaining that he had identified some of the roots of his struggle with a counselor.
"These are the areas where I have clearly identified making extremely unwise decisions," he wrote. "I chose isolation over community. I was a hypocrite-I preached, 'you can't do life alone' and then went out and lived the opposite."
Noble continued: "Isolation is where self pity dominated my thinking, thus justifying my abuse of alcohol. Isolation is where self-doubt dominated my emotions, causing me to believe I just could not carry the weight anymore, and alcohol was necessary for me to make it through another day. Isolation is where self-hatred dominated my mentality - I hated myself, literally HATED myself for doing what I was doing, but believed the lie that this was just the way things were and there was no way it could ever get better."
The pastor admitted he chose alcohol over his family and continued to suffer alone even while knowing that a "strong community of people who really loved me would rally around me and walk with me through the valley I was in."
Noble encouraged his followers to learn from his mistakes, admitting he chose to control relationships, isolate himself from his family and remain silent during his struggles.
"Let me beg married couples...please don't to cease fighting for your marriage by investing your time and attention into other things. Maybe it's not alcohol, maybe it's a hobby, or porn, or friendships...or even your kids. Take it from me - the temporary feeling of relief is not worth the long term pain of the consequences."
The pastor said he isn't sure what the future holds, and concluded by apologizing to members of NewSpring Church and referred to his time as their leader as "one of the greatest privileges of my life."
"The things we got to see Jesus do over the past 16 years were simply miraculous," he wrote. "It was an honor to stand beside you as we got to see Jesus to way more than we ever asked for or imagined - Godspeed to you as you continue to do whatever it takes to reach people far from God."
During a recent interview with The Gospel Herald, Judah Smith, pastor of The City Church and author of "How's Your Soul?: Why Everything that Matters Starts with the Inside You", explained why many pastors experience spiritual fatigue and shared why isolation is a "soul killer".
"Pastors are first and foremost humans. We have the same needs, struggles, and issues as anyone else. Yet the unique nature of being spiritual leaders can often isolate us. In an effort to be good examples and to 'live what we preach,' we can unintentionally create an environment where we are unable to admit need or ask for help," he said.
Smith added: "I think that's profoundly unhealthy-and honestly not even biblical. Sure, we can fake it for awhile. And maybe there are a few remarkable people with iron wills who can hold the course their whole lives without failing. But in the long run, emotional isolation coupled with the pressure to be perfect often leads to shipwreck. God didn't design us to live that way. As pastors and leaders, we need to ask ourselves the hard questions long before we reach the point of imploding."
To prevent burnout, Smith emphasized the importance of surrounding oneself with good, supportive friends: "Isolation is a soul killer," he said. "That's why asking the question, 'How's your soul?' is so helpful. If you don't have anyone in your life who can ask you that question, you need to find someone. Your ability to be vulnerable with others actually says a lot about your theology."