Being a pastor can be lonely. You face challenges that most people do not understand. When you meet those challenges, it can be tricky, if not impossible, to talk openly about them with those in your congregation. To make it more difficult, it is not uncommon to be kept at arm’s length by those in your community. This reality often leads pastors to feel like they are on an island. Before you even realize it, you have become isolated. Because of how dangerous this is, pastors should put significant effort into avoiding pastoral isolation.
We will post another article on how to avoid pastoral isolation at another time, but for now, here are four reasons pastoral isolation is dangerous.
You forget that you are not alone.
Several times in my ministry over the years, I developed a “woe is me” mindset. While far from the truth, I started believing the lie that no one else was facing what I was facing. I knew that other pastors had struggles, but surely none of them were as drastic as the ones I was facing. This mindset drove me deeper into my isolation. I began resisting fellowship with the few pastors that did reach out.
Fellowship with other pastors provides a reminder that others are facing the same challenges. It is a reminder to pray for other pastors and to do what I can to support them. Something about striving to help other pastors provides a new perspective on your challenges
You can get focused on building your kingdom.
To be fair, it’s possible to do this even when you spend time with other pastors. However, I think it is easier to fall into this trap when you are isolated. Spending time with other pastors has often provided the opportunity to discuss ways of partnering together to advance God’s kingdom. The more time I have spent with leaders from other churches, the more I care about the global church’s growth, not just my church’s growth.
You can miss out on giving and receiving encouragement and support.
Let’s face it, we all need encouragement and support. When we are isolated from other pastors, we not only miss out on the opportunity to receive the encouragement and support that we so desperately need, but we also miss out on the opportunity to give it to others.
What would happen if we all intentionally reached out to another pastor this week to encourage them? Perhaps there would be less pastoral burnout, fewer moral failures, and fewer pastoral resignations.
You may miss out on some great ideas.
Some of the greatest things I have implemented in my 20 years of church ministry have been ideas from others. By avoiding pastoral isolation, you will benefit from the collective wisdom, experience, and creativity that a group of pastors can provide.
I am convinced that one of Satan’s strategies is to keep pastors isolated. We will not overcome this accidentally. We must intentionally work to fellowship with each other, be willing to encourage each other, and look for ways to work together. Doing these things will keep us from traveling down the road of pastoral isolation.