“Pastors should never be friends with members of their own congregation.” More than one of my professors in both my undergrad theology classes and my mDiv graduate classes offered this advice. As a young person I didn’t understand where they were coming from. I’ve always been a take me as I am kind of person. I have never liked being fake or inauthentic.
Is the church you pastor a safe church? Is it a place where people are accepted just as they are? A place where a weakness is celebrated rather than exploited? Where people are encouraged to be open about their struggles and shortcomings so that other believers may encourage them and pray for them?
Anyone who has been a leader for any length of time will attest to the fact that being in leadership means getting used to feeling lonely. I’ve listed ten things below that leaders face that can cause leaders to feel isolated and alone.
How much training did you receive on emotional health issues while in school? If your formal schooling was like mine, you received very little. I recently heard it said that schools teach the what but rarely the why or the how. Lots of time is spent teaching us theology. Making sure we can understand the deep things of God. This is important of course but it is only the tip of the iceberg of what we need to know to effectively pastor.
No one likes to be criticized. It doesn’t feel good. It also tends to touch pain points we all have developed since childhood. As little children, when our parents got upset at us, we would internalize these events as there being something wrong with us.