The Loneliness of Leadership

Leadership can be lonely. Remember the story of Moses coming down the mountain after experiencing God’s nearness in a way none of the other Hebrews had? With whom did Moses celebrate that experience? Who were the friends he called? The truth is Moses was among crowds but experienced some level of loneliness because leadership is lonely.

Because the natural pull of leadership can be a lonely experience, leaders must fight to build healthy relationships with the people they lead.

The relationships we cultivate with those we lead are essential, and finding an appropriate balance between friendship and leadership takes skill. I have seen leaders default in both directions:

  • Some people lean too much into friendship and abdicate their leadership influence
  • Some people lean too far into leadership and negate the role of genuine community in our Christian walk

As a leader we must be intentional in our development of friendships with the people we lead. There is a great art in cultivating strong and healthy relationships that are mutually beneficial and honoring to God. Whether you have a position of leadership or simply a great level of leadership influence in your church, here are 3 things to keep in mind:

  • Value people over the machine – this one might be for the more driven leader, but we all could use a healthy reminder that the church is people. We serve together to build God’s Church but ultimately what we are building is a complex network of relationships aligned under Jesus. Make sure you intentionally value the people you serve with over the processes which serve you.
  • Be aware of your circles – have you ever noticed Jesus had different circles of relationships? There was the crowd (Matt 5), the 72 He sent out (Luke 10), the twelve (Luke 22) and the three (Matt 17, Mark 14:33). Each circle had a degree of relationship or friendship with Jesus, yet Jesus did not give equal access to all. As the circles shrink the level of vulnerability and trust increase. Peter, James and John knew something of Jesus’ struggle that the other circles knew not of. Build friendships with those you lead, but be intentional about whom you entrust with the most personal realities of your life.
  • Create healthy rhythms for relational connects – Without intentional rhythms the pace of ministry will remove the margin for relational connection. As a leader find the system or rhythm that will provide time to encourage and enjoy the people on your team.

Leadership can be lonely, fight for healthy relationships with those you lead.

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