Feeling Lonely in The Ministry

This is going to be somewhat of a sad post, but there will be light at the end. I have been chewing on the reality that sometimes being a Christian is lonely. Now, this is not to say that my family doesn’t have community and that I have no Christian friends. We actually have a very large community of Christian friends and a very strong support system. I think the loneliness that I am talking about springs from a couple different truths for me and my family.

Lonely on Mission

The main one that we feel lonely in is living out our whole lives on mission. God is doing so much work in our neighborhood but also in many other areas of our lives. We are excited about what God is revealing to us and how God is moving. We love what he is doing with our city and our little block. The problem is we don’t have anyone to share that with. Many people in our circle of Christian friends are not driven by being missional and being evangelists to our city. That’s where the loneliness starts to set in. When they ask us how we’re doing, and we talk about the random homeless guy that we ministered to last night, or the refugee family that we’re befriending, most of the time it’s met with silence. It is one of the most awkward things when you are pouring out what God has been doing in your life, and it’s met with uncomfortable replies. Surprisingly this happens quite frequently with Christians that we know. I don’t think they know how to reply, or I guess they feel uncomfortable with our response to their question, “how are you guys doing?”

Some of it has to be conviction and comparison. The conviction comes in the form of them feeling guilty in some way that they are not participating in God’s work or that they aren’t shown these opportunities from God. The comparison comes when they base their life off of our life, which is dangerous to do. The other aspect that was brought to my attention is that it sounds like we are bragging, when that was never the intent. All three of those problems that we face with people’s reactions have caused us to feel alone in the work of God. It has become more frequent for us not to openly discuss our “mission work” with some Christians due to their reaction before. Unfortunately it makes it hard to be excited about what God is showing us, because somehow it comes off in the wrong way to people. I truly wish that every Christian we came across was bursting to talk about what God is showing them and how He is using them. For now, we are wrestling with the loneliness of the call. I won’t lie, it is extremely frustrating at times. Lately, I have been guilty of impatience, pride, and anger towards other Christian’s lack of wanting to free the lost. I have just now been getting back to understanding that it is ok to feel lonely at times in ministry, and that my only true role is to love others, including Christian’s.

Lonely in Leadership  

Feeling lonely in leadership. Another main aspect of feeling lonely in the Christian faith is being in leadership. Let me tell you, it is not easy being a leader. I had no idea how true this was until I became one. Right off the bat it was great, there was lots of love and happiness. Then you start having to deal with people’s sin and real life circumstances. The one thing that has been hard and lonely with being leaders is the lack of your small group asking about you. That seems awfully selfish and to an extent it is. Being a leader requires a lot of pursuit on your end with your group members but not a lot of reciprocity. I can’t tell you the last time one of the people in our small group asked us, “How can I pray for you guys this week?”

This concept is not isolated with just us. I know plenty of other leaders including pastors that have struggled with this. There is a lot of pouring out and it gets exhausting. This is another area where we can get angry, and frustrated with people.

There are a couple things that I realized need to be cultivated. The first is a good relationship with other leaders of small groups and a good relationship with the pastor. We have to be praying for one another and spurring each other on, or we’ll start to feel used and abused. The other part is to be continually renewed by God. We have to ask the Holy Spirit to renew our minds and put love in our hearts for the people we’re guiding. We cannot do this on our own without God.

In feeling lonely at times in our faith, we acknowledge how much more we need God’s guidance and love. Through these lonely experiences we see how much more we need God. How we need his communion and friendship. Sometimes I think this is why we feel this loneliness, so we can become closer to Him.