I heard someone say that leadership is lonely, and I am finding that to be quite true. It is all the more what drives us to a deeper relationship with Christ, the ultimate leader, the one who understands our calling and likes to be with us anyway. I do have true friendships, and I am so thankful for them! Here are some truths I am learning about friendship and loneliness in ministry.
1. Naturally occurring friendships are best. It is best not to force friendships. You do not have to be everyone’s best friend.
2. You need a variety of healthy “safe” friendships. You may have a shopping friend or a workout partner. You may have a person who mentors you in a certain area of your life. Your friendships my include unsaved and un-churched neighbors, as well as deep spiritual relationships with others in ministry, perhaps through social networking or across the country.
3. Your husband needs friends. The second greatest need of men, after admiration, is recreation. You and your husband need friendships that encourage you and allow you to be yourself and have fun, in addition to your ministry responsibilities.
4. You do not “clock in” with ministry work. It is not so clearly defined, and you may be “on the clock” when others think you are just hanging out, so do not be afraid to say “No” before you become overwhelmed with too many social events.
5. Pray that God will give you and your family members true friendships. We were not created to walk alone.
6. Can we be friends with the people we are leading? Can we have close friendships with our staff and with people in our church? Yes! I think we can look at the life of Jesus, who embraced his leadership role and yet did life with his disciples. He never shied away from his purpose or responsibility, but he was a true friend. He shared his heart and served the ones he came to lead.
7. Know that God is the truest friend. He will never leave you. He is a great listener. He knows you better than anyone and will always love you the most.