Being a leader can be lonely. If you are a leader, you know this and you’ve felt it too. You’ve felt it when you’ve walked into a room to deliver hard news. You’ve felt it waiting at the airport for a flight home after another trip away. You’ve felt it when you wanted to share more information or more of your heart, but couldn’t.
This lonely feeling isn’t caused simply by serving in a leadership position. There are other contributing factors.
For starters, our 24/7/365 frantic pace is a key factor. It’s hard to deeply connect with others when you are always moving at a hundred miles an hour.
Fear is another factor. It can seem far safer to keep others at a distance or surface level. After all, deep relationships require precious time. They can also lead to betrayal, rejection, and hurt.
Seasons of trial and challenge can also add to loneliness. It can seem too painful or require too much energy to reach out. Your pride and public persona can be put at risk. It seems easier to just put your head down trusting that things will resolve.
If this sense of loneliness builds in a leader, there’s a real danger that the three ‘nobody’ lies gain a foothold. These lies are subtle but powerful:
1. Nobody really cares.
2. Nobody really understands.
3. Nobody can help.
Have you ever begun to hear yourself reciting these phrases or feeling similar sentiments? When it happens, we need to take quick action.
First, choose to reject these three big bad lies. Shut them down as soon as you hear the tape playing in your mind. Replace the lies with truth:
1. God cares. (1Peter 5:7)
2. God understands. (Genesis 16:13-14, Hebrews 4:15)
3. God can help. (Romans 8:31-32)
Second, lean into community. Jesus chose to live, love, serve and suffer in the context of community. The community around him was far from perfect yet he chose to lean into it. The people of God are called to demonstrate God’s care, model God’s understanding and extend God’s help. This is an amazing gift even if it’s not always perfect.
So, call someone. Call a trusted friend, family member, pastor, mentor, or counselor. Go for coffee. Let others see beyond the mask and into your real world. Get engaged in the real world of others. Ask deeper questions. Slow down and make time on the calendar to just be (agenda-free) with key people in your sphere. Take a risk to lean into a small group or your team. Contact a coach. Get to your local church because hearing others sing reminds you that you are not on this journey alone. Laugh with a friend because you need to. Pray with a brother or sister in Christ because you can. Do something fun with others because maybe you haven’t in too long.
You are not alone. Lean in.
To The Point,
Dr. Steve A. Brown