Pastors live in the midst of many people. But the secret is they are often lonely and depressed. Pastors suffer from a lack of friends.
Be honest, if you are a pastor, are you lonely? If you go to church, do you think your pastor may be lonely?
Not only is this an issue for the individual pastor, this is an issue for the congregation. Pastors carry a great deal of sensitive and private information within their souls. They can’t share that with a person from the church.
I was a part of a boundaries workshop recently. We chatted about the issue of whether pastors can have friends in the congregation. I am going to make a distinction. The people and the pastor must absolutely be friendly in many ways. We share life and faith together. We weep and we rejoice together. But I am convinced that pastors cannot have confidants in the church.
A confidant is a person with whom we share the depths of our souls. This is a person who will hear the totality of our frustration and pain, holding them confidential and with love. This, if you will, is a Friend (with a capital “F”).
I am fortunate. I have two pastor Friends from other churches and tribes. I have prayed with them every other Thursday for something like 15 years. We know each other’s heart. There is unconditional love and support. Our trust level could not be higher.
In fact, I am doubly blessed. I also have a person who has been my coach for a number of years. That is somewhat different. While a coach holds one accountable to your personal goals and passion, the confidant relationship is still there with total confidentiality, love, and positive encouragement. I cannot stress enough that every pastor should have a coach. Need one? Contact me.
Pastors must have a place to vent and be completely open. If they don’t have that, they are a time bomb. All that pent up energy is going to come out in a way that hurts them and others. When a pastor makes a mistake, it negatively impacts the congregation and even the community in which the church exists.
So I am making a case for six things a pastor needs to be healthy:
- Insist on spiritual time for reading the Bible and prayer.
- Exercise – not only for the weight on your scale, but for the weight on your shoulders.
- Regularly visit a doctor whom you trust.
- Find at least two confidants (Friends) outside the congregation.
- If life is stressful, take some time away – Jesus did.
- Get a coach who can help you traverse the muddy waters of church leadership.
Remember, we follow Jesus. He kept his focus on the salvation of humanity with occasional tangents to heal people. He even let thousands of people walk away. Be the person God calls you to be.
You don’t have to be lonely and depressed. God doesn’t want that for you. God wants all His people, especially pastors, to experience His joy, love, and grace.
What are some ways for pastors to be healthy examples of Godly living? If you are a pastor, what do you do? I would love to hear from you. Leave your comments below.
If you add isolated and bored to the loneliness, there can be bouts of real doubt and despair. A congregation that chooses to do nothing and only wants to come to church on Sunday morning for a nice service and a good sermon, then not be bothered for the rest of the week; does not help either.
Thanks, Doug, for your very honest comment. We need more of that in the church today. It is the only way forward. Thank you for your ministry in the name of Jesus. May God bless our congregations and church leaders with peace, love, and joy, alongside a burning passion for the mission of God.
EVERY ONE OF THESE IS SPOT ON!
Don’t do just one of these – live them all – they work in concert with each other. Years ago I didn’t do ANY of these – they only thing higher than my blood pressure was my weight….my family paid the price, my deeper relationship with Christ suffered, my mental health suffered… and thus the church was impacted in some way.
I didn’t realize how worn out I was until I went on a sponsored silent retreat and ended up sleeping for 36 hours STRAIGHT!
Pastors – TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF! If you are sad, depressed, exhausted, worn out, cynical, angry – you cannot serve well.
Talk to a TRUSTED friend
Fix your DIET
Get off your tail – EXERCISE
LISTEN to your doctor
Get away…TURN OFF the cell, ipad, computer… disconnect.
I know the dangers of NOT doing this, I learned the hard way… please brothers – take this article to heart.
Wow Doug D., what a profound statement into the lives of church leaders. Thank you so much for another deep and honest expression of the realities of being a pastor. God will do much good through your vulnerability. May God bless you and your ministry with much joy in His service!
Yeah, and if you’re a pastor, make sure your church pays for the coach, and not you.
Thanks, Karla. Awesome point.
Thank you for sharing. I believe the first step is knowing and admitting to yourself that you have a need, i.e. “I am in need of a Friend”, someone I can share with honestly that will not use that info to hurt me in the future – but talk (not preach) to me as a “friend”… when the “timing is right” …and pray with me as needed. Now, that kind of “friend” is best when God (who knows all of our needs) “makes” that “divine connection”. When God makes the connection, it will work out for our good (Rom 8:28). God, our Helper and ultimate Friend says in His word that He will supply all of our needs – He will do it, He is faithful! I believe it, God wants us to have friends (Ps 84:11). Then when God does it, I must trust in God’s choosing. Prov 3:5-8
Note: Just for clarity, I am just listing scriptures for reference here only – not as an example of talking to a “friend”. Thank you, great article! God bless!
Thank you, Lorna, for your wonderfully sensitive, insightful and spiritual comments. God’s blessings for your ministry in the name of Jesus!
Thanks for the article. Some of us have been doing this for awhile now – over 30 years for me – and are beginning to feel irrelevant, especially in music ministry. We don’t have the cool hair and we can’t fit into the cool jeans anymore. I know God can still use us but I’m not sure the church agrees. It seems like we’re quickly replaceable – like a product at Walmart. We love Jesus and we love what we do, but we believe that the church has chugged the Kool-Aid of hype, hip and cool and over 50 is just not gonna cut it anymore. We believe we are very good worship pastors, but it seems the church doesn’t want that anymore – they want a slick, GQ under 30 worship pastor. And so I walk, with my worship pastor friends, through the valley of the shadow of un-usefulness.
Thank you, Gene, for a powerful and honest statement. May God move in such a way that your ministry is fully expressed, honored, and brings joy to your life.
A challenge that most Pastors I know find difficult. We often have people in our churches that we like and respect, but its a different kind of relationship. We are not there to be served, but to serve which changes how we relate to people.
Thanks for the comment, Mark, that reminds church leaders that we have a unique relationship with the people that we serve in the name of Jesus. May God bless your ministry and household.