Recently I had a conversation with a coworker about how the enemy wants to isolate us. We observed how people spend many hours searching for artificial community online yet walk around with headphones when around real people. If they would just take a moment and pulled their headphones out and maybe talk to someone they might find that the connection they so desperately long for has been right in front of their face the entire time. My coworker went on to say that sometimes the most isolated people are those in ministry. I couldn’t help by think just how true that is.
Why is that?
Well, for starters there are some things that we just can’t share with everybody. I mean when a member of the church shares something in confidence, you can’t really go telling your BFF. Sure you can talk to another member of the staff or the senior pastor, but what if they are the problem. I mean with whom do you share your frustrations about another member of the staff or the senior pastor. Loyalty dictates that you can’t share it with members of the church. Doing so can cause division within the church. The Bible gives us clear instructions to protect the unity of the church. What you said while simply venting or trying to work through your frustration may change the feelings of another person. This could be just the wedge that the enemy needs to divide your church or to pull someone out of the church.
What’s the cure?
Well, I would love to say that I have he answer. I do know that networking is part of it. I, personally, have a group of Children’s Pastor friends that I turn to when life/ministry gets tough. This group has been of more value than I could every express here. However, even with this there are some limitations. There are certain things that there just doesn’t seem to be ANYONE that I can share with.
As pastors/ministry leaders we are some of the most public people around. We are more often surrounded by people than just about any other profession. This is because our work is all about PEOPLE. Unfortunately, with the limitations on who we can confide in, we may often find ourselves surrounded by people and yet still feeling all alone.
So, how do we counter this?
Here are some things that I have found that help.
- Nurture your relationship with God: May seem like a no brainer, but it can be easy to overlook.
- Nurture a healthy relationship with your spouse: This one may also SEEM obvious, but it is often the first relationship that we ignore. We know as pastors/ministry leaders that we CANNOT ignore our relationship with God. Well, the relationship with your spouse comes in as a close second in importance.
- Nurture relationships with other Christian adults: This can be any number of people. For me it is my older brother (who is probably reading this) and my father.
- There is little better relief for the stresses of ministry than simply knowing that you are not alone. Reach out to other people that do what you do.
- The internet makes this really easy. Sites like CMConnect make it super easy.
- Local: Even with the internet, there is something about having someone that you can sit and chat over a meal or over some coffee and work some things out. Seek out others in your area that do what you do. Invite one to coffee, host a breakfast at your church. Do what ever you have to do to connect. Your ministry may depend on it some day.
Ministry can feel very lonely at times. Share with me what you have found that helps you avoid feeling isolated.Matt Norman
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