Loneliness is one of the biggest challenges I see my clients battle. It’s a feeling of isolation that they describe as, “It just seems like no one cares.” I can relate to their feelings because it’s something I’ve face before.
I’ve worked in large staffs, with dozens of volunteers yet still endured seasons of loneliness in ministry. It’s an emotional and physically draining experience. One that I feel compelled to share because:
I’M NOT ALONE WHEN IT COMES TO LONELINESS
The feeling emerges from time to time. It comes when no one shows up to an event or when I think someone I work with ignores my struggles.
I’ve learned to overcome this feeling by connecting with other youth workers. Whether it’s attending a conference or grabbing a bite to eat, solidarity always gets me through the draining experience.
To combat the loneliness it’s important to find a network that will listen to you. Whether it’s through your diocese or national network it’s important to pray with, learn from and listen to other youth workers. I’ve also learned that:
MY PASSION CAN OVERSHADOW OTHER PEOPLE’S COMPASSION
There are so many who care about youth ministry and want to see it succeed. Unfortunately, that can be hard to see when your passion blinds you from other people’s compassion.
My wife loves me and she has been my number one cheerleader in ministry. However, there were times when her lack of enthusiasm wasn’t enough. What I desired was something unrealistic. Instead of embracing her support I would push it away.
This comes from pride. Believing that you are the source of all solutions will prevent others from coming alongside you to build something great. Humility is a quality that cannot be overstated. By embracing it we allow others to celebrate the joys and walk with you during the tough periods.
BEING LONELY AT THE TOP IS A LIE
As the ministry grows so does the amount of responsibility. The success and failure of the ministry can weigh down on you and it’s not meant to be done on your own.
Leaders need to surround themselves with people who will not only challenge them but love them. A true leader is someone who knows they need wise counsel to help them make difficult decisions and continue to dream big.
LONELINESS IS A SIGN THAT FOCUS HAS BEEN LOST
The reality is that anytime I’ve felt lonely it’s because I’ve disconnected myself from the person who gave me my purpose. Large numbers and constant affirmation from other is always going to fall short from the joy you get from God.
If we are going to continue to grow disciples then we are going to have to look at ways of growing in our faith. Going on retreat, building in quiet time prayer and constantly pursuing God will not only bring back that focus but diffuse any feelings of being alone in ministry.
Youth ministry is a grind, but it’s not meant to be done on your own. That’s one of the reasons I started Marathon Youth Ministry Facebook Page and MYM One on One Coaching. If you are interested in having someone travel with you through the trenches just click the button below.
Question: What’s the biggest struggle you face when it comes to leading your ministry? You can leave a comment by clicking here.