Friday, June 10, 2011

Isolation: Friend or Foe

A minister is often put on a pedestal, or at least held up to higher expectations than other members of the church. As leaders there is more of a burden to be the shepherd and role model. In response to this, the minister’s life often becomes superficial, holding others at “arms length” to hide the struggles and flaws of his life. Whether this perceived burden to be perfect is from the congregation, or self imposed, the minister is likely to find himself not truly known by anyone. While this seems safer for the moment, it breeds an environment of isolation. No one is perfect. Where image and reputation are “king” the minister will lack authenticity and intimate relationships. Isolation will become the reality of the minister’s life.

Isolation is also nurtured by some ministers’ belief that they shouldn’t have good friends in the church. They believe that would be perceived as playing favorites so they become everyone’s acquaintance, but no one’s close friend. The minister may be seen as an extrovert or people-person, who knows everyone, but is truly known by no one. Once again the result can be a growing sense of isolation.

For a married man in this situation his hope rests in his relationship with his wife. Hopefully they are open enough in their relationship that God can use her to help him to consistently grow to be more like Christ. As she knows him in the private portions of his life she can help him see his inadequacies. It will also give Satan less ability to thrive in the midst of secrecy.

What is the single minister to do? If they are living an isolated life they have no one to hold them accountable. No one to call them to task concerning the needed changes in their character. No one to which they can confess their sins and know the healing power of God. 

Examine your situation. Is there anyone who knows you as your truly are? If not, ask God to help you to live in the "light" with a few trusted, truth-speaking, grace-giving friends. In that you will find the wholeness that you need to survive and thrive as you serve God's people.

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