"Leadership is lonelier than you think"
I've heard people say, "If you're alone in leadership then you aren't doing it right." I disagree. If every Senior Pastor were honest, they'd admit that it's lonely to be the Senior Pastor.
Too many people are debating if it's lonely, when we need to be answering why it's lonely. The reason it's lonely as a Senior Pastor is 3 fold:
#1 – Because everything falls back on you – here's what I've learned: when a decision goes well, "we" decided that. When it goes terribly wrong, "I" decided that. No matter what you do,all decisions fall back on you and everyone has a problem with at least one decision you've made. And that kind of unresolved friction limits relationships.
#2 – Because you're still the boss – This isn't meant to sound cocky or arrogant. It's just true. What I've learned is that Senior Pastors want to be "one of the guys" many times. But no matter what, you're still the boss. The best thing to do is to just accept that you're never going to be one of the guys and enjoy the friendship you can have with people to the level they feel comfortable with.
#3 – Because Senior Pastors are wired differently – Senior Pastors, especially church planters are entrepreneurial by nature and most people aren't. Where I see opportunity, others see uncertainty. Truth be told, most people desire certainty to adventure.
So what do I recommend? 3 things:
#1 – Don't expect your staff to be your best friends. If it happens, consider yourself a blessed man. If it doesn't, that's the nature of things.
#2 – Get around other Senior Pastors. Most of my closest friends are Senior Pastors of other churches. In these relationships, there's no employee/ relationship. It's just friendship. This is one of reasons I like to do coaching for Senior Pastors. It's can create those relationships.
#3 – Don't look exclusively to your staff for friendship. Instead, get around people who are like you. My friends tend to be entrepreneurial and that works well for me. I'm also a musician, so I tend to hang around people whose equipment costs more than their car 🙂
The point is this: Is being Senior Pastor lonely? Yes. Accept it. But there are friendships out there if we will cultivate them.