Isolation is a familiar feeling for those in ministry. If that’s what you are facing now let me pass along the most genuine piece of unsolicited advice: Do what’s best for you, your ministry, and everyone connected with it and decide to make some changes.
For our emotional health, we need to be well-connected. In these days of social media, I’m not referring to tons of connections on LinkedIn, followers on Twitter, or having over a 1,000 Facebook “friends.” We need to have a small circle of trusted friends that know you and love you in spite of your shortcomings.
We, who teach the Bible, should live as good examples of what it means to love one another, encourage one another, pray for one another, and even confess our sins to one another. That can only be done if we have trusted friends who are involved in our life. This type of result requires us to make an effort to cultivate them and, in some cases, restore them. If we don’t have this level of support, it’s our fault. If we don’t address this area of our lives, we increase the odds of burnout, bitterness, or spiritual failure.
Your support system may or may not be in ministry. This isn’t about having a ministry network meeting, in which I firmly believe. It’s about having a handful of people who are in your corner all the time and who will speak the truth to you about your strengths and shortcomings. I learned a long time ago that if I don’t make an effort to be in touch with my “corner guys” transparency and growth may happen, but it will probably take longer than it should.
So, how do we move forward?
Make a list of the friends you’d consider part of your “band of brothers” or “band of sisters.” It’s risky but find out if they’d be willing commit to providing this level of support to each other. If so, you’re off to a good start. Some friends, even deep friendships, will only be there for a season and that’s okay.
Aim for somewhere between three and seven people who can help address each area of your life and be transparent about your intentions. This process will take time and intentionality but persevere and secure deep friendships.
We need each other, and when we’re committed to one another, we are all stronger and better off. When we are stronger, we have a higher probability of pursuing Jesus and accomplishing His plans for our lives.
Len has been in ministry for over 25 years and has written more than 100 articles for various youth ministry publications. He’s served as a convention pastor for youth leaders and has also led a nationwide pastoral care service for those in youth ministry for over two years. He walks with a limp but joyfully walks alongside youth leaders.