Let’s be honest, sometimes as leaders, we are THE WORST at finding community!
Often, we are so comfortable being the leader, but get pretty awkward when we try to make friends. Or, we’ve been hurt in leadership, or are just so stinking tired, that finding community just seems like too much work.
So, this week on The Jesus Leader Podcast, I share about some of the reasons we often don’t engage in community as leaders. As well as some really practical steps that you can take today to find rich and rewarding community.
Take a Listen…
Here’s a recap…
It’s hard because we don’t want to be hurt
As a leader, you get hurt enough. Christian leadership can sometimes feel like a constant call to die. Because it is.
We’ve all been in places where leadership seems to suck the life out of us. We’re betrayed, people get upset with the decisions we make and leave the ministry, etc. But that is no reason to stop building community!
It’s hard because we don’t want to lose credibility
Often leaders feel a sense of pressure to be perfect. I’ve been there. We and up placing the responsibility of perfection on ourselves, rather than on Jesus. We think that in order to say “follow me as I follow Jesus” we need to be some sort of super human. BUT THAT DOESN’T EXIST.
But it causes us to put on masks and hide the truth of who we are. Sometimes we even allow others to put us on a pedestal where we don’t belong. Sometimes, it’s because we like it. But it’s not healthy and it distances us from community. It’s hard because community is confusing.
Community is confusing for people in ministry.
When our whole life is ministry, often people who are not in ministry… don’t seem to get it.
Let’s be honest, what we do is weird.
How do you talk about it with people and their eyes don’t glaze over.
What we carry is heavy.
The weight of leadership is heavy. And when we enter into community, we don’t want to appear too needy or depressing, so we wear a mask there too.
It’s hard because ministry is messy.
As leaders, we often know the struggles and challenges of the people we lead. It seems like every relationship around us is where we are entrusted with the worst and most broken parts of people’s lives.
And we often react in one of two ways.
One. We get into the mode of being pastor with our friends too. We try to counsel and fix. We assume that when a friend shares their heart, they want a pastor and expect us to be pastor.
While that’s sometimes true, what we need to be is friend.
But sometimes we forget how to be a friend. We’ve been the Christian leader for so long, that that sometimes just seems easier to opt for being the professional Christian.
The other option is that we don’t even want to enter into potential friendships because we’re so sick of hearing people troubles and journeying with them through challenges.
Being a christian leader is tiring. Sometimes it’s flat out exhausting
Trying to build friendships seems just too exhausting.
So we opt out all together.
These are just a few reasons that community is hard for Christian leaders.
But, that doesn’t mean it isn’t necessary.
In this episode, I also share several ways that you can find healthy and life-giving community.
We are all made for community!
God could have designed Christian life anyway He wanted. But He designed it as a body, a community, a family. We see this imagery all throughout the bible and just like God himself lives in community through the trinity, we as His people are made to live in community with Him and His people. We don’t get to opt out of it.
Having been hurt is not an excuse… As a chrisitan leader, one of the things you probably talk about is how God heals wounds. If you’ve been hurt before, and that is one of the key factors in holding you back from finding community, then you need to take steps to get healing.
Don’t make your friends your counselors
I am an advocate that most Christian leaders need counseling (at some point) in their ministry. Especially if you’re a lead pastor, you probably need a counselor on call.
I have a few reasons for saying this.
You don’t want to be leading from a place of insecurity or hurt. Your ministry will always be unhealthy if that’s the case.
Ministry is hard!
While your community of friends, spouse etc. can be an incredible support, they’re not counselors. And they don’t want to be.
If you’re in a dark place in your leadership, you need a counselor… who is trained to help you… not just a friend.
If you try to make your friends your counselor, it won’t be a healthy friendship.
We all go through seasons of carrying friends and being carried by our friends. But if you’re really struggling, you’ll need more than a friend.
Look for friends outside of your congregation or ministry.
This can be a challenge if you’re in a small community, but the world is smaller than ever with texting, facetime, airplanes, etc.
In reality, there will nearly always be a power difference when a leader tries to build a friendship with a member of the ministry.
Let’s look at the local church for example.
If you’re a pastor, you can have a close relationship with your staff members, elders or even congregants… but you will always be the pastor and/or boss in those relationships.
You’ll have to play two roles in those relationships. And one will always suffer.
To find the most healthy friendships where you can let your hair down, I encourage you to look for friendships with people who are NOT under your direct leadership.
You may need to reach out to someone that you’ve lost touch with, ask someone for coffee that you don’t know very well or ask the Lord to bring new people into your path.
Build community that will last for the long haul
Take it slow and steady as you build friendships.
Sometimes in friendships, it can feel like people jump in a little too fast. Maybe you’ve experienced this, building a friendship can sometimes feel like dating. If you go on a first date, you don’t want someone to ask you to marry them. You want to take it slow.
A friendship relationship is no different (in some ways).
You build it over time. So, go slow. Allow a genuine friendship to come as you share experiences and time together.
You can’t have a ten year friendship without ten years of history.
Find people who are in similar fields, but not connected to your ministry.
Especially if you struggle with comparison and competition, don’t just look to connect with the pastor down the road. Find other places to connect with people who are like minded, and have a similar heart. They’ll get the weight of what you do and you’ll be able to share your passion to spur one another on. BUT, you’ll do different enough things, or the same thing in different enough settings that you won’t be pulled into the comparison trap!
If you haven’t already, I want to invite you to join my FREE Facebook community for women in Christian leadership.
It’s a place where you can get training and leadership tips, but also a place to connect deeply with other women who are serving in Christian leadership. It’s called The Jesus Leader Community- for women in Christian leadership.
I encourage you, ESPECIALLY if you’re struggling to find community, take a leap of faith and join this free community.
I’d love to hear from you this week. How has this episode encouraged you? And maybe even tell me what the first step you’re going to take in finding Christian community as a leader is going to be!
Believing in you,