Leading a church can feel like one of the loneliest jobs in the world. Given the nature of your work in ministry, it may not feel like there are many people you can rely on for advice or who can understand what your life and work are really like. Before you know it, you’re alone and isolated in your ministry work and wondering if you’ve got what it takes.
We know you do. And we also know that church leaders were never designed to go it alone in ministry.
Nearly every person in the Bible who was called into God’s service did so with the support of one (or many!) fellow workers. There are dozens of examples, but here are just a few:
- David was supported by Jonathan during some of his darkest moments, and when he was on the run from King Saul, God provided David with a whole army of men who shared his circumstances.
- The prophet Elijah, also on the run from Queen Jezebel, found Elisha to accompany him on his travels and to take over his ministry after he’d gone.
- Paul frequently travelled with other missionaries like Barnabas, Silas, and Timothy as he spread the gospel throughout the ancient world.
- One of Jesus’ first public acts of ministry recorded in the Bible was calling Simon Peter and Andrew to be his partners in sharing the news about the Kingdom of God.
Clearly, we weren’t meant to ‘lone wolf it’ in ministry, if the very earliest examples of church leadership carried out their work in close partnership with others. So how can church leaders seek out safe places and relationships in which to share the daily struggles of church leadership? Here are a few ideas:
- View seeking support and connection from other leaders as part of your stewardship. When you entered ministry, it was no doubt with the intention to be the best leader and shepherd you could be for your people. In order to keep being that leader, you’ve got to seek out the support you need. View that support as part of you responsibly managing the position you’ve been entrusted with as a church leader.
- Be the first to reach out. If you’re feeling isolated and alone in your leadership, it’s a good bet that you are not alone in that feeling. Be the first to reach out to other leaders, coaches, and trusted friends to get the support you’re needing — it’s likely they need it too. As C.S. Lewis wrote in The Four Loves, “Friendship ... is born at the moment when one man says to another ‘What! You too? I thought that no one but myself…’ ”
- Put it on your calendar. What gets scheduled gets done. Enlist the help of your assistant or support staff to help you make time to meet with others and make connections, and to keep you accountable to those appointments.
The work of ministry is too important to try and go it alone. Leaders who make an intentional effort to connect with other leaders find themselves more ready to tackle the daily work of ministry, and more ready to take that ministry to new levels of effectiveness.
How are you making sure you’re not isolating yourself in your ministry work?