Loneliness is an affliction that affects many pastors. Pastor Alex Average is one of them. He is reluctant to let people — especially people in his church — get too close to him. He fears being hurt or disappointed by them on a personal level. He doesn’t have close friends outside of his church either. He is extremely busy, and he uses his busyness as an excuse to not make friends. But he also finds that many people outside vocational ministry have trouble relating to what he’s going through. And other pastors that he might befriend are just as busy as he is. Pastor Alex is good at making polite conversation. But he rarely talks deeply about the joys, disappointments, and frustrations of ministry. As a result, he carries much of the stress of ministry within himself, with no outlet. Sometimes, Alex just wants to have a “normal” job, one where it would be easier to connect with other people. But God called him to ministry, so he goes on — alone.
When we experience loneliness, what we are really missing is a connection.
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Pastor Rob Renegade also knows loneliness. There are times when it feels overwhelming. But Pastor Rob has taken the words of Scripture seriously and has friends in whom he can confide. It’s not a big group, but these men love Rob and are ready to talk with him about the things that are most important to him. Pastor Rob has one friend in particular whom he has known for many years. He has experience in pastoral ministry. Most importantly, this man is a strong Christian who has a great deal of wisdom. He listens to Rob and helps him see his challenges from a different perspective. Just having someone who listens to him is great comfort for Pastor Rob. Having someone who is wise enough to help him work through issues is an even greater blessing.
Most of the people in Pastor Rob’s church have no idea that he has this support system. After all, none of these friends are very prominent in his church. What they do see is a more relaxed pastor, one who can help them because he isn’t overly burdened with his own cares. They see a pastor who can recognize the different sides of issues that come up. He often realizes solutions that escape others, simply because his perspective is broader. They sincerely appreciate the wisdom Pastor Rob brings to their challenges.
They may not fully understand it, but the members of his congregation should be extremely thankful for the friends and advisors that Rob surrounds himself with. They are a large part of the success of his ministry.
When we experience loneliness, what we are really missing is a connection. We are missing fulfillment of the universal human need to have close relationships with other people. God created us for community. In the Garden of Eden, God looked at Adam and said, “It isn’t good for man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18). This is still very true today. But ministry can be a very lonely calling for us.
God created us for community.
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People come to us with challenging issues that are also deeply personal. They naturally expect a high level of privacy, and we give it to them. Our job is so specialized and different from other occupations that there aren’t many people who even understand what we deal with on a daily and weekly basis. Not only do we have a job that some people find it hard to relate to, we also suffer because we are so busy. It’s important to take the time to develop relationships; making close friendships are worth the effort to avoid suffering the consequences of loneliness.
– Nelson Searcy and Richard Jarman
The above excerpt is from p. 52-54 of The Renegade Pastor’s Guide to Managing the Stress of Ministry.
Pastors Nelson Searcy and Richard Jarman share their secrets to effective stress management with practical steps and insights that you can start implementing immediately! God wants you to be a fruitful, faithful minister of the gospel. He wants you, as a Renegade Pastor, to rise above average as you pursue God’s best for you, your family, and your ministry.
Your partner in ministry,
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