Pastor, Don’t Stay Lonely

“My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with me” —Matthew 26:38

When you are hurting, you need a friend.

Even our Lord did.

At a denominational meeting, a man approached and introduced himself. It turns out he reads my articles and is acquainted with my cartoons. He said something that lingers with me to this day.

“Sometimes I think about calling you. It gets so lonely where I’m working, and I just need someone to talk to.”

As I recall, he is not a pastor of a congregation but works with pastors and other ministers. Therefore, he has no regular constituency. And often, that means no one is looking after him. He is bearing this burden alone.

I tore off a piece of paper and wrote my phone number. “Call me,” I told him. “Please!”

That is one courageous man.

It takes courage to admit to a stranger that he gets lonely and needs someone to talk with. I cannot say how much I admire him.

There is an affliction among ministers that wears loneliness like it was a medal of honor or something. “Lord, you know I’m lonely, but it’s a small price to pay for what you have done for me.”

He’s lonely and refuses to see it for what it is—an impetus to reach out to a friend.

I call this Lone Ranger Syndrome an affliction, because that’s what it is. The Lord never intended any of us to be loners or to serve him in isolation. He sent out the disciples two by two, he added us to a congregation of believers when he saved us, and said the very badge of a believer is our love for one another (John 13:34–35).

To the lonely minister who brags about his loneliness, I say, “Cut it out. God is not impressed. You are doing it all wrong.”

You Need Friends.

God has provided friends and colleagues in the ministry for you.

The next time you’re looking for something to do, check out all the “one anothers” in the New Testament. The Lord who intended us to be part of a team, a family, his body, gave at least 30 different instructions on our duties to one another.

God intends you to befriend others in the ministry.

They’re not all in your denomination, either. Some of the best friends you will ever have belong to a denomination that you may have been attacking or are suspicious of, may never have heard of or have heard negative things about. See what the Father has for you.

Ask him. These are the Father’s children also. True, they’re not perfect, but neither are you. Your new friend’s doctrine may be flawed, but I’d be willing to bet that at the Judgment Seat we will find that all our denominations have missed some things along the way. So ease up, servant of God, and give the Lord a chance to do something good for you.

A Suggestion

If the pastor is lonely, it’s likely his wife is also. So, here is a suggestion:

Call up the pastor of that church down the highway and see if you can buy him a cup of coffee. No agenda, just to meet. Then, do it with some of the other churches in the area. Do it with the Catholic priest, the Episcopal priest, the United Methodist minister and the Pentecostal and/or Holiness preachers, one at a time.

Once you find a minister you can connect with, ask if there is some interest in getting together with your spouses. (Okay, priests don’t have spouses, I know.) Even if you have to talk your wife into going to that restaurant the first time, stay with it. It’ll be good for her to meet some other wives.

So, I suggest the first gathering with the wives be at a restaurant, a family-friendly type that is not expensive. Have an understanding that each couple will pay for their own meals, so there will be no strained conversations over whose turn it is to pay.

See what the Lord will do with this.

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Joe McKeever
Joe McKeever

Joe McKeever spent 42 years pastoring six Southern Baptist churches and has been writing and cartooning for religious publications for more than 40 years.