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If You Are Lonely in Kingdom Work, You Have Only Yourself to Blame

lonely in ministry

And He sent them out two by two. (Mark 6:7)

When the Apostle Paul gave us his list of burdens and hardships in the service of the gospel, loneliness was not one of them. 2 Corinthians 11 speaks of beatings, imprisonments, shipwrecks and hardships galore. At the end, he adds one more all-inclusive category: “my deep concern for all the churches.”

But not loneliness.

Paul was not lonely.

We rarely see Paul by himself. In Antioch, he was one of five leaders. On his first missionary journey, he was accompanied by Barnabas and John Mark and possibly others. On his second journey, Silas was his companion, along with Timothy, Luke and others. The last chapter of his letter to the church at Rome lists 25 saints by name to whom he was sending greetings, along with “his mother and mine” and “his sister” and “all the saints who are with them.” Then, he names eight brethren who are with him at that moment: Timothy, Lucius, Jason, Sosipater, Tertius, Gaius, Erastus and Quartus.

Paul was no loner. Nor was our Lord.

Jesus chose 12 “that they might be with Him” (Mark 3:14). (The exception, we need to add, would be Gethsemane when He said, “Could you not pray with me one hour?” (Matthew 26:40) )

Then, why, someone please tell us, are so many pastors loners, trying to lead the church, prepare life-changing sermons, and bear the burden of a thousand responsibilities all by themselves?

It was not meant to be this way.

Why pastors tend to be lonely in ministry

–Their role models were probably loners too.

Ask yourself for one moment whether you can think of a veteran pastor who had a cluster of pastors as close friends, who conferred with them regularly, and was part of a group in which he was not its leader.

–Pastors are cautioned not to have close friends in their churches.

I disagree with this counsel, but I understand it. Many servants of the Lord have been betrayed by those they trusted.

Over 42 years of pastoring (and 58 years of preaching), some of my closest friends were at one time members of my churches. Others are pastors or denominational workers.

–Few young pastors are ever encouraged to seek out mentors or to befriend ministers of other churches. In fact, the model we are given most often is that of competition. The other pastors served churches that were competing with ours. (I have stories about that, but will spare you.)

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Joe McKeever has been a preacher for nearly 60 years, a pastor for 42 years, and a cartoonist/writer for Christian publications all his adult life. He lives in Ridgeland, Mississippi.