Church ministry can be a very lonely spot on the kingdom wall. It is most likely the reason the statistics are so shocking for the number of pastors that burn out, quick ministry, or battle all kinds of emotional demons.
And, no ministry leader is exempt. Lead pastors, associate pastors, church planters, campus pastors, and pastors wives are all at risk for dealing with the feelings of isolation and loneliness that can often accompany any kingdom role in ministry.
Isolation and loneliness develop for one of three reasons.
The tendency to compare ourselves to others.
The tendency to compare ourselves to others certainly isn’t a unique challenge to ministry, but it is a dynamic that is alive and well in the hallways of every church. As church leaders, we are constantly comparing ourselves to others as it relates to preaching, leading, and the ministry we are doing. We compare styles, stats, and assets.
It is so easy for the comparison game to leave us feeling, well, less than. It is that feeling and that feeling alone that can keep us from reaching outside the safe circle that has us isolated. We fear our questions, concerns, and challenges are unique to us.
Truth is, they are not. Every pastor I know is wrestling with something.
A fear of sharing how we are really doing or we are really feeling.
I am guessing you have been asked more than once a simple question and you gave a simple answer. The question was, “How are you doing?” You politely answered, “Fine.” The reality was you probably weren’t doing fine, but feared telling the truth.
It is that fear of being vulnerable that leaves many pastors feeling they are running toward God’s dream for them and their church alone.
It does not have to be that way. It should not be that way. There is a better way.
Difficulty building deep meaningful friendships in the places we serve.
Deep meaningful friendships are basic to life. They are both needed and required for life and especially for healthy and effective ministry around the Church. The sad reality is an organization built to be an authentic community where relationships can flourish has so many leaders on point who simply cannot point to some deep meaningful relationships where they have been called to serve.
Couple any or all of these three reasons with the high demands placed on a ministry leader in the Church and you have the perfect recipe for a pastor or ministry leader that feels as though he or she is doing ministry on an island.
That should simply not be the case, not any time or any place.
Around HGC, we are working hard to fight against this current. We long to create a community of healthy leaders committed to help each other go further faster in their quest to create significant kingdom impact. It is the reason that every multiplication effort we support, coach, and/or help get started operates under one clear guiding principle: No one, and we mean no one, multiplies alone. Simply put, we are deeply committed to providing safe circles where pastors can share their burdens, challenges, wounds and fears without hesitation. We are also committed to building a community of leaders who have the necessary tools for effective ministry.
Find a network of trusted companions. Get together with other pastors, no matter the zip code or denomination to build life giving relationships. This will allow you to see behind the curtain and combat comparison. It will empower you to move beyond the fear of sharing who and where you really are. It will give you a safe place to ask your questions, get ideas, and become the best version of you.
Are you feeling alone? Need a network? Maybe it is time you no longer seek to build a healthy growing church that multiplies alone.
photo credit: Something worth having is something worth waiting for! via photopin (license)