I admit it. I tend to be a loner. I like my personal space and my private time. I recognize, though, my tendencies aren’t always the best for a pastor. Here are my reflections on others like me:
Why Some of Us are Loners
- Some of us are naturally introverts. In fact, I’m convinced many pastors are introverts, but we’ve learned how to manage the public responsibilities of shepherding a church. If we don’t have our alone time, however, we’d never rejuvenate.
- Some have been hurt in the past. It doesn’t take many experiences of sharing ministry with others, becoming best friends with your staff, opening up to members . . . and then getting wounded . . . before you become a loner out of self-protection.
- It’s easier to do ministry alone. It takes less time to make a visit if I go by myself. Lunch takes less time if it’s not connected to hanging out with another believer. It feels like we can accomplish more if we do it all ourselves.
- It’s risky to be vulnerable. If I never invite others into my life, I never need to talk about my fears, my weaknesses, my failures. Nobody learns that I sometimes struggle.
- It’s the only model we know. Few of us had someone pour into our lives when we were young pastors. We’ve learned the lessons of ministry the hard way – by ourselves – and we’ve learned how to survive on our own.
Why that Pattern’s Not Good
- It misses the point that God created us to be with others. When God said, “It is not good for man to be alone,” He was not talking about a consequence of the fall. He spoke prior to the fall – showing He created us to be in relationship with others.
- It misses the way Jesus did ministry. Jesus knew how to balance His time with the Father and with others. He prayed often, preached to the hundreds and fed the thousands–all while also patiently investing in a few men.
- It’s dangerous. Let’s be honest: we often make our dumbest decisions when we’re alone. I’ve met very few leaders who fell when they were sharing life and ministry with others.
- It can be self-centered. It sounds odd to say my desire to work alone can be self-centered, but it can be. It’s my space. My plans. My ministry. Meanwhile, I share little with others who might long to learn beside their pastor.
- It’s not good leadership. Most of us know this truth intellectually, but we don’t practically live it out. If my departure from a church leaves a hole because I built the work around me, I’ve not been the best leader.
What Should We Do?
Admit our tendencies. Ask God for courage and wisdom to invest in someone else. Find 1-3 other believers into whose lives we might invest ourselves. Then, do something with these other leaders. Each step will help you break the pattern of being a loner.