After over 10 years of ministry, I have noticed a big issue. I don't think I have ever felt more deep moments of feeling alone and isolated than I have as a pastor. What I have come to learn is I am definitely not the only person in ministry who feels completely alone at moments in life. I think the devil wants to isolate us, making it easier to take us out.
Did you know that loneliness is felt in the same part of the brain as physical pain? Yes, it hurts that badly. I am sure there are some people reading this that can say, "I feel that intense pain right now." I am writing this post specifically for people in ministry. But I am hoping that if you have a pastor or friend in ministry that you will reach out to them and let them know they are not alone. You will be surprised by how much this can mean to them.
I had a friend who recently booked a semi-famous youth speaker in the church world from his city to speak at one of their youth retreats. My friend was so excited because he thought that he was creating a friendship with a guy in his region and that they could work together to build the kingdom and do big things in the city, not because he got to meet this semi-famous person or have his face on their flyer.
I called my friend a few days after his retreat to see how it went. He was so disappointed. He said, "The guy just treated me like I wasn't on his level the whole time." The sad thing is my friend is an amazing youth pastor who is doing great things for God. He is also someone I trust my life with and I believe that this speaker missed out on making a good friend.
This type of thing has broken my heart in this generation of pastors. I see so much "networking" going on, but it seems that so many pastors seem to ignore other pastors if it seems they have nothing for them. Imagine if our networking became a group of people making friends and doing whatever we could to see the others become great. We could be building an army of pastors and friends, but instead it seems as though we close off to a small group of friends, hoping everyone else becomes fans of us. We need to be in this together as the body of Christ.
I really feel like if we want to really change our world, people in ministry need to be better friends to each other. I am so open when people reach out to me to be friends. I need friends; I have been and can still be that lonely pastor. I don't care what size ministry you have. The only thing that matters to me is whether or not you are looking for a genuine friendship.
I had a young man call me a few months ago and ask if I would have lunch with him. He wanted help getting started in ministry. He was so shocked when I said, "Yes." He said, "I can’t believe a pastor at a church your size is actually making time for me." I remember hanging up the phone and thinking how crazy that is. I understand we are all busy, but how do we build the kingdom if we aren't willing to open the gates to our worlds?
I can remember as a kid reaching out to people, hoping someone would help me find an open door. Most people ignored me. I pray every day now that I am in a place where I can help open doors. I do everything I can to bring that about.
If we really want to reach our world, we must become genuine friends — support each other, reply to each other. Let’s get over being "cool" on social media, and instead, let’s cheer each other on.
I think one of the greatest battles the devil is winning in the church is by getting many young ministers to be more worried about networking and some measure of fame. We need to seek true friendships. We should enter into a covenant to build the kingdom together. There are many pastors already doing what I am saying, but this I think we can all do better. It hurts to talk to so many pastors that feel alone. I think it hurts for me because I know how it feels.
I believe we could do so much more together. Pastor Lloyd Ziegler once said, "Snowflakes are fragile but when they stick together they stop traffic."
Even if we didn't have the hope of doing amazing things together (which we do), at least we wouldn't have to be alone. Let’s be friends to each other so they can "know we are Christians by our love".
If you need a friend, feel free to email me firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me on twitter and if you're in ministry, I’ll follow you back.