Authentic Community

Article by: Bridgehaven Team

Counselors Reflect on Dangerous Calling by Paul Tripp
A Series to Care for the Care Takers of God’s People

“Is it biblical to tell pastors that they won’t be able to be friends with anyone, that they must live in an isolation that we would say is unhealthy for anyone else?” page 69.

Ron, the pastor of a small congregation, became a casualty of the battle.  He was desperately lonely and did not know what to do about it.

The call to proclaim the gospel and lead a group of people toward the Lord is a grand experience.  Many have experienced this remarkable honor.  Our churches are full of such people and the mission field is filled with those who are eagerly following their call to proclaim Christ around the world.  It is not a call that everyone hears, of course.  Some remain at home and participate in the Great Commission in other ways.  But the call to ministry can be a lonely place to serve.  It does not have to be that way, but it often is a dangerous calling.

Ron initially loved what he did.  He could not believe that he had the honor of proclaiming God’s word to the church where he served.   The variety of people was initially compelling and offered a unique challenge to trust God as he poured his life into these dear saints.  And he did so enthusiastically.  He could not believe that he was paid to read the Bible and teach from it each week.  He loved leading the congregation and walking with them in the own journeys.  But as time passed he noticed a dark distant feeling creep in until one day he realized that it was isolation and loneliness.  In his role as the pastor he rarely thought about his own need for an authentic community to provide him with a place to bathe in grace and truth.  He had struggles just like those in his congregation, but he became afraid that if he, the pastor, admitted to such struggles that they may respect him less, or worse, decide he could not lead them.  The subtleness of those unrealistic expectations crept in almost imperceptibly and the wedge seemed to drive him farther from the community where he should have felt safe.  Now he was in a world of his own and it was sapping him of life and vitality.

As odd as this may sound, this scenario is very common in many of our churches and creates a vacuum that sucks the life out of some of our spiritual caregivers.  It’s predictable, but completely unnecessary.  After all, pastors and Christian workers are people too.  They struggle with their own brokenness and battle with unwanted idols in their heart.  It is helpful for us to understand that our pastor is more like us than he is different.  His calling does not place him in a new category where he is immune to the lies and partial truth that may feed the insecurities and sin.  He needs community the same way that the congregation needs it.  Pastors must have an environment where they can live in authentic community.  They need to be able to be honest with someone about their struggles without fear of being unduly judged or punished.  When we offer less than that kind of atmosphere we can expect a predictable crisis at some point.  Isolation can unwittingly force your pastor to live in a world that all would agree is unsafe and unhealthy for anybody, much less the shepherd of our congregation.

If you are a pastor or Christian worker and you can identify with this predicament, please approach someone before it is too late.  If you do not feel there is someone in your congregation who could listen with balance, then seek someone in your community whether it is a friend, another pastor, or a counseling ministry like Bridgehaven Counseling Associates.  It is imperative that you discuss this with your congregation or your director at some point, but it is vital that you have a safe place to live and grow.

If you are a member of a congregation, please do not let your pastor suffer in silence.  Do not be afraid to ask him how he is doing.  Assure him that he is safe to struggle and that he can be honest about his struggles.  Extend as much grace to him as you have received yourself from the Lord.  Offer to help find him a safe community.  It goes without saying, but please pray for him and ask him how you can pray for him.  He is in a unique position and is a moving target of the enemy of our souls.  Be willing to cover him with your prayers, your love and your understanding of his role.

If you know your pastor is struggling (or even if he is not struggling!) please feel free to refer him to our ministry.  You can also purchase the book Dangerous Calling for him to read, or email him the link to our blog series on this important book.


Join us as we explore “Dangerous Calling” by Paul David Tripp. 

To order a copy of your own of Paul Tripp’s book click on the link below.

535826: Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry By Paul David Tripp / Crossway Books & Bibles