By Derwin L. Gray
It’s lonely at the top.
When people use this common phrase, the focus can sometimes be on the word top. But let’s look at lonely in the context of this saying.
Leaders often feel alone and somewhat secluded. They think no one can relate to the burden they carry of having to be “in charge.”
Unfortunately, this feeling even hits ministry leaders. Why is that?
1. We’ve bought into a lie.
One of the reasons ministry leaders are so often lonely is because we have bought into the lie that we must operate in a business CEO model of leadership instead of a New Testament pastor-shepherd leader.
When we think of leadership, we divorce it from the gospel reality of being a disciple. This distorts our priorities and motivations.
At Transformation Church—the church I lead—one of our sayings is, “Every disciple is a leader but not every leader is a disciple.”
What I mean by that is, one can have leadership competency but not fruit in his spirit. We want to lead with our character. We want fruit-bearing leaders who have competency.
Therefore, I think it’s very important for pastors to get back to understanding that we are servant leaders who are first and foremost called not to ministry, but to receive the ministry of Christ in us and allow the Spirit to minister through us.
2. We don’t delegate.
Ephesians 4:12 says we are to equip the saints for the work of ministry. What’s interesting about the word equip is it was used by medical doctors in the first century to set a broken bone in place and also to fix a fishing net that had ripped.
Equipping isn’t just cognitive theological formation; it’s also soul repair. But oftentimes as leaders we’re trained and equipped in cognitive theological formation instead of the formation of our souls through the gospel.
In other words, we can’t give away what we don’t possess.
3. We struggle to be vulnerable.
At times it appears that the church eats its wounded. We talk about grace but when a pastor needs grace we’re not gracious and many leaders are afraid to talk about areas where they need sanctification.
They fear being transparent and vulnerable because they may be fired. It’s important that the local church reclaim her role as a community of wounded healers.
The pastor is not above the congregation but a member of the congregation who also is being transformed into the image of Christ.
4. We lack solidarity with other leaders.
I believe ministry leaders have turned other ministry leaders into competitors instead of brothers and sisters who are meant to encourage each other.
We really need a pastoral reformation to understanding that pastors are disciples who are in need of the same grace that they preach and teach every week.
5. We don’t make time to be mentored.
Finally, it’s important for us to build healthy networks of relationships where people don’t just need us to download into them, but we need people who can build into us.
Who do you have around you that can pour into you? These relationships are important and life-giving.
DERWIN L. GRAY (DerwinLGray) is the founding and lead pastor of Transformation Church in the Charlotte, North Carolina area. He is a former NFL safety and is the author of Limitless Life, The HD Leader, and a forthcoming title from B&H, The Good Life: What Jesus Teaches About Finding True Happiness.