If you’re familiar with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, it may be interesting for you to know I am an INTJ. If you’re not familiar with Myers-Briggs, you may think that stands for International Ninja and Tall Janitor. You would be wrong.

Without going into an explanation of the personality types, I’ll just explain the I. The “I” in INTJ stands for “introvert.” Many people mistakenly assume that since I’m in front of hundreds of people every week, I must be an extrovert. Not necessarily. I get recharged by time away from people, either by myself or with just a handful of close family or friends.

And speaking of friends, people also often assume that pastors have tons of friends. After all, many pastors can be challenging to track down, especially on a Sunday while there’s a line of people waiting to talk with them.

Here’s the truth: being the Lead Pastor can be very lonely. Here are a few thoughts…

Prepare for loneliness.

I wasn’t told much as we were prepping to plant a church, but I did receive the same warning from a few pastor friends: “Leadership is lonely.” Just like you can’t know what it’s like being married until you get married, you won’t know the loneliness of leadership until you’re in a position of leadership. Although you may not know it, you can and should be prepared for it.

Depth over breadth.

As you step into a pastoral leadership role, it will limit some of the friendships you can have. That’s not bad or good; it’s just the nature of the position. Although you may not be able to go real wide in the number of friends you have, you can go deep with a few close friends. What you may not have in breadth of friends, you should work hard to have in depth of friends.

Give yourself permission to not be best friends with everyone.

Plenty of people want to have the pastor and his family over for lunch or out for coffee or at their birthday party, retirement party, etc. Feel honored that they asked, but don’t feel pressured to attend. It’s ok that you’re not BFFs with everyone in your church. You can love people from a distance.

Have some close friends who don’t go to your church.

Anywhere I go in our city, there’s a good chance I’ll run into someone who goes to our church, used to go to our church, or recognizes me from church. A pastor and his family can often feel like they’re “always on.” Sometimes that can make it challenging to unwind and just be yourself. I’m sure there are some great people at your church you can be friends with, but I’ve found it helpful to be friends with people who don’t go to my church too. As leaders, we all need some people who we’re not trying to lead or set an example for and that we don’t have to think about whether or not they’re going to leave our church!

Befriend some other pastors.

Pastors have to stick with pastors. We’re kind of a unique fraternity that understands the unique struggles and challenges that are unique to our role. Other pastors understand the feelings of loneliness, the inability to travel over Christmas, the weirdness of not being mentally present on Saturday as Sunday’s message tumbles through your head, the strain that preaching can have on you, the pain of someone leaving your church in a negative way, and so much more. Find some pastor friends, then forget that you’re pastors and just be friends. If you need to talk ministry and church for a bit, do it, but don’t let that dominate your conversation. Be real and have some fun!

K E V I N • M I L L E R

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