It’s Lonely At The Top

Archie ComicsBefore 90210 and Felicity, I got my teen angst fix from Archie Comics {and, of course, some Baby-Sitter’s Club and Sweet Valley High}. I always loved seeing what trouble Betty, Veronica and the gang would get into and try to guess who might win Archie’s affections {maybe Archie is why I believe red-heads are the cutest boys around?}.

I distinctly remember one issue where the spoiled brunette  Veronica was complaining to the blonde good girl Betty about how lonely it was at the top. At the time, I sure thought Veronica sounded ridiculous. But as I get older and assume more responsibility, I realize that there is some truth to Veronica’s bold claim. This Forbes article confirms it.

Leadership can be lonely.

Especially leading a church or even a ministry. {Don’t ask me how I know this.}

This weekend while scrolling mindlessly through my Facebook feed, I stumbled across an article on “Why Do So Many Pastors Leave The Ministry?” The statistics both surprised and disturbed me.

“80% {of pastors} believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families.”

“80% {of pastor’s} spouses feel the pastor is overworked and feel left out and under-appreciated by church members.”

“70% {of pastors} do not have someone they consider a close friend and 40% report serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month.”

Did you catch that last one — 7 out of 10 pastors do not have a close friend?!? Can you imagine carrying the burden of shepherding a flock with no one standing next to you?!? Can you imagine the weight of being above reproach with no real friends to hold you accountable and point you towards God?!?

It breaks my heart. It seems we are failing our leaders. Or better yet, we are setting up our leaders to fail.

Watching Christian leaders try to navigate Truth and grace, faith and doubts, influence and fallibility, successes and failures, I can’t help but wonder why anyone would enlist to be a pastor these days. It’s a lot. In fact, the statistics would lead us to believe it’s too much.

It all leads me to a series of questions that I’d love your thoughts on.

How can we do a better job of caring for our leaders?

How can we better support people as they are on the rise, when they fall, and every day in between?

What can we do to make leadership a little less lonely?

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.  Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 9-13

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Lindsey has a sincere love for her precious dogs Molly and Maisy, a good red wine and the Delta Sky Club. She spends her days (and some nights) laboring to end childhood hunger at Feed the Children and to gather, equip and unleash women at IF:Gathering.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Lindsay

    Yes, ministry leadership can be lonely (I think that’s especially true of singles in ministry, which is my stage of life). Time with friends and family helps, as does keeping my body and mind healthy with proper sleep, mostly healthy eating, and regular exercise. But I think we all need to do better in leaving margin in our lives and actually scheduling downtime/rest…which, to me, includes turning off my cell phone. I’d like to hear tips from others. Anyone?

  • Jenny King

    First, glad you mentioned Felicity :).

    My father is a pastor, so I totally saw this firsthand. I think…pray, force our leaders to take retreats and pay for it, force them to take a Sabbath day off, encourage counseling for all.