Pastors, Loneliness, and the Common Cold

Pastor, do you feel alone?

I ask because pastors often report struggling with a sense of loneliness and isolation in their ministries.  Although surrounded by people and ministering to people, pastors (especially solo pastors) fill a solitary role that sets them apart from those around them. Others may fail to understand them, or even misunderstand them, leading to a greater sense of aloneness in the ministry.

Research demonstrates that loneliness reduces our immune system response[1]. It seems that connection with others supports not only emotional and spiritual health, but physical health as well. Connection with others boosts our immune system as well as our sense of well-being, thereby reducing the occurrence of the common cold! (Of course, hand sanitizer doesn’t hurt either)!

However, pastors sometimes struggle to find time and energy to maintain friendships outside the church and feel limited in connection inside the church.

Some pastors report that they have been able to find and maintain supportive and refreshing relationships inside the church. Others report that they seek out friendships with local pastors, clergy groups, or unrelated interest groups.

Yet H.B. London, head of pastoral ministries for Focus on the Family, says that 70% of pastors report that they have no friends[2].

This situation concerns me! Attending to our own emotional and relational needs is an important part of emotional intelligence development.

I don’t have all the answers to this dilemma but I know it’s very important. In fact, it’s critical to preventing burnout and thriving.

I would like to invite dialogue on this topic.

What impediments to connection do you find in ministry?

 How have you been able to meet your needs for relationship and support? What creative ways have you found to foster meaningful relationships inside or outside of the church?

Your comments may encourage or support other readers as well as help in my quest to support pastors.

Thank You for your comments and for your work in ministry!

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[1] http://www.livescience.com/26431-loneliness-harms-health-immune-system.html

[2] http://ministrytodaymag.com/outreach/service/830-the-significance-of-serving