Isolation can be suffocating for a pastor. Ministry can be lonely. That’s why we need others to help and encourage us. I like the word “networking.” To network means to be interconnected with others. I’m not talking about a formal network, rather your connection with other pastors and leaders in your local community.
Why is a network of relationships in your local community so important?
1. Networks work on deeper friendships.
There are times you may feel that you don’t have anyone in your corner. In my ministry, it was with fellow pastors in my community that I found some of my best friendships. We had potlucks together. We played golf on our days off. Most of all we shared our struggles and encouraged one other. We prayed together regularly. To this day I am good friends with many of these pastors I met 30 years ago. I encourage you to reach out and meet with a local pastor in your town.
2. Networks work on better perspective.
Others are facing the same struggles. Whether it is the day-to-day grind of ministry or something life-changing, we all get discouraged and it’s easy to believe we’re alone. When we realize that we are not alone, it helps us bear up and not get bogged down by the things your church doesn’t have or hasn’t yet become. It allows you to be blessed by what you do have.
3. Networks work on needed accountability.
One of a pastor’s greatest needs in ministry is accountability (by the way, that’s a good reason for coaching). John Howe, a church consultant, says “When you’re isolated is when you’re most vulnerable to attacks from the enemy.”
To whom have you given permission to ask about your integrity in your finances or your personal life or your marriage and parenting? With whom do you share the hurts and challenges? What trusted ear hears the victories and triumphs?
Who are you sharing and leaning into? It’s best if it’s someone outside the church. But the task is too great and the goal is too significant to risk doing this alone.
4. Networks work on helpful resources.
We need help! “So, what is everyone else out there doing?” Good leaders are curious. They want to know what the other effective churches are doing. This year, make connections with other churches outside of your usual network. Learn what they’re doing in their ministry to bring people to Christ and disciple them. There is so much to learn outside of our four walls.
BEFORE YOU GO…
Where to start? Offer to buy a pastor lunch and hear the successes and failures they’ve been through this year. Join your local ministerial association. Go to a pastor’s event like the Global Leadership Summit or just take another pastor out for coffee! It’s just more fun to work together with others.