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Most leaders I know need more friends. I am amazed how many student and children’s pastors are out there serving in isolation. Why? Maybe we feel like because we are in ministry we feel we have to be guarded. Maybe we feel like we are too busy for people who are just “friends.” Maybe we are so immersed in our responsibilities that we can’t see there is an entire world outside our own church bubble. This week at Grace Community we talked about our need for community and my pastor (and one of my true friends) Chad Rowland shared this verse from I Kings when the prophet Elijah isolated himself from everyone…

And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” (1 Kings 19:7 ESV)

Just like Elijah, the journey you are on is too great for you also to do alone. Chad reminded me Sunday that when we are alone we choose to make choices that we would not make if we were connected to healthy friendships. You don’t have to do ministry in isolation. You need real friends around you who are going to be there no matter what. I know many of you have served in isolation for so long you don’t even know where to start. Here are a few places to begin…

  1. Plug into or lead a small group. // This is a big one. You need to be in a small group with people who have nothing to do with your ministry. Some of my best friends are in community group with me and they help me stay connected with others who are outside my ministry bubble.
  2. Connect with a key volunteer or staff member. // I serve with several guys on our staff that are great friends. I also have friends who are volunteers here at church. When we hang out we do lots of stuff that have nothing to do with church. That is why we are friends. We play golf, watch sports, and talk support each other through life. That’s what friends do.
  3. Connect with an organization outside your church. // Coach your kid’s basketball or soccer team. Volunteer for another organization in town. Do something that helps you connect with normal people outside your church world. It’s good to have friends who have nothing to do with your church. I promise.
  4. Connect with leaders in your town in other churches. // There are leaders serving in other churches in your town who are looking for healthy relationships also. Your needed friendship might come from the church down the street.
  5. Connect with leaders from across the country. // You never know the friendships you might make as you network. Leverage social media to connect with others and get to know people across the country. Conferences get way better when you are connecting with friends.

Don’t serve in isolation. Make sure you are striving to stay connected to people you call friend!