37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled.
Life is hard. Ministry is difficult. These are perhaps the understatements of the year. But life and ministry are even more difficult when we are confronted with the feelings of isolation we have endured since the beginning of this pandemic. Many of us have watched our children struggle in virtual classrooms and navigated the challenges of creating authentic worships spaces in a virtual environment. We’ve struggled with work-life boundaries as our homes, schools, and offices became the SAME place. We’ve been separated from friends and loved ones. We have suffered terrible losses. It’s been tough for all of us. The malaise that accompanies months of Zoom meetings is common for even those among us who consider ourselves introverts.
The pandemic has exacerbated the feelings of loneliness and isolation that accompany vocational ministry. We live in a bubble where unrealistic demands are imposed or assumed because of the calling we submit to. While our lives revolve around people and community, we are often left feeling somehow beyond the reaches of those whom we’ve been given to serve and live with. We feel alone and isolated. Often surrounded by crowds, our circle is small…tiny…and sometimes nonexistent.
Jesus understands. When he was confronted the most challenging moments of his earthly ministry, he would often slip away to pray. But when he faced his final and greatest challenge, he did not go alone.
“…and taking with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee…”
Pastor, servant, sisters and brothers – I want to encourage you to resist the urge to “go alone.” Yes, we need moments to slip away, but we also need community. We NEED community. In community we find our cheerleaders and our challengers – we need both!
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in “Life Together” says it like this:
“Let him who cannot be alone beware of community… Let him who is not in community beware of being alone… Each by itself has profound perils and pitfalls. One who wants fellowship without solitude plunges into the void of words and feelings, and the one who seeks solitude without fellowship perishes in the abyss of vanity, self-infatuation and despair.”
I want to encourage you in your desperate moments, to reach out to those in your “circle” apart from the crowds and to take someone with you.
Here at The Ministry Collaborative, we desire to care for those who are caring for others. We understand how lonely and isolating this work is. We know how hard you are working. We see you. Through our cohorts, podcasts, weekly publications, Breathing Room, webinars, and workshops – we are standing in the gap with you. We are holding a generous space for you. You are not alone. And while our insights and encouragement may not always resonate with you, and while we may sometimes miss the mark (the spirit is willing, but we are weak), we are with you!
Those with whom you serve may not be able to bear the weight of your weakness, but we do understand the hazards of our occupation. When sorrow and grief assail you – you needn’t bear it alone. You are a part of a community.
Don’t forget that.
Jesus had Peter, James, and John.
Who is in your circle?
Take them with you.
Jesus, in his darkest hour, modeled the good sense of “not going alone.”
May we do the same…