Church Leadership is an Island

March 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

When I talk to Church leaders I find a common thread that shows itself in the majority of our conversations. It doesn’t matter if they are leading thousands or just a handful, they are lonely. The irony in this is that so many Church leaders are incredibly charismatic and possess a great ability to connect with people. They have personalities that people are attracted to. So why are they lonely? Why do they feel fulfillment in their work but lack satisfaction in friendships? It is because we choose to be lonely.

It breaks my heart to see church leaders that choose to do life alone because they are not only missing out on fulfilling friendships, but they also miss out on a huge resource that keeps them sharp and effective, each other. The choice to keep everyone at arms length isn’t made because we really love being alone. The choice is made because we fear vulnerability. We are afraid of being used. We fear being authentic and transparent because someone might judge us and we could potentially lose influence. Our own insecurities keep us from allowing someone to get too close. We feel the pressure of a certain image that we need to uphold and we know that when people get close they may realize that we aren’t as put together as we appear from the fringe. All of these things are true and it is likely that you will have a friendship or two go bad, but it is worth it.

The purpose for this post isn’t just to encourage leaders to have friends for the sake of having a friend. I have watched as so many church leaders have isolated themselves to their own island. They succeed alone and they fail alone. There is no one close enough to really celebrate their wins with them, but most importantly there is no one there to help pick up the pieces when they fail. There is a shortsighted invincibility that a lot of leaders own. They convince themselves that as a leader they are strong enough to fight temptations and discouragement alone. There is no safe place where they can be vulnerable. It is all smiles even when times are tough. The result is a tormented mind and a leader that is on the brink of their demise.

The people you lead need you. Do not fall prey to the prideful notion that you can do this on your own. No one can. Weigh out your options with me. We can choose to do life alone and risk the consequences that come with relying on your own ability to sort through struggles and discouragement. Another option is to stretch ourselves, let go of our pride and ego, and build transparent relationships that may be uncomfortable at first, but could ultimately save you and the people you lead.

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