Suffering in this life is inevitable. Others will always let us down. Unexpected tragedies will befall us. And if you’re a Christian, Jesus told you that you will have trouble. (see John 16:33) So I have to wonder why I am sometimes leveled by the ugly, wounding heartbreaks of leading a ministry. Perhaps it is because I am a human who has prayed, “Lord, break my heart for what breaks yours,” and God answers that prayer in the affirmative.
Whatever the reason, over the past decade of ministry, I have enjoyed “walking” with incredible sojourners whose fellowship has blessed me. There are those who have gone before me in disability and ministry who have shared their wisdom in how to serve this population and love them to Christ. There are colleagues who have professional experience with mental health and how it affects our interactions with both those we serve and those on our teams. I have sat with others and worked through the frustrations of developing spiritual metrics in order to show some measurable results to would-be supporters. I have gleaned wisdom from those who have gone before me in developing a business plan and building a solid Board of Directors. And I have commiserated with other leaders on the predictable people-problems that occur when we serve.
No matter what the situation, our fellowship of suffering for the cause of Christ has always been the sweetest when we encourage one another in prayer. Having suffered a stinging blow just this week, I am glad that the first thing I found myself doing was running to Jesus in prayer along with other leaders. I didn’t just run to anyone. It’s not ultimately helpful if I’m just running to another servant who will tickle my ears with pleasantries that I want to hear. Instead, over the years, I have found dear individuals who will solidly speak God’s truth to me with compassion and gentility. These are fellow servants of Christ who say the tough things I need to hear without beating me up in the process. They also encourage me through their own personal stories of suffering in leadership, reminding me that I’m not the only one who has ever had to endure the trials that I am facing. We pray fervently together, and they admonish me to lead with faith instead of feelings. These fellow leaders hold me accountable to address my challenges in a godly manner rather than responding in the fleshly way I may want to unleash.
Because I have others who encourage me, I become a better leader. And I am also built up so that I can be poured out for another when they are facing their time of trial. In fact, I have been in many situations where I am comforting and encouraging another servant at the same time as they are doing those very things for me. That mutuality is an enormous thing in God’s economy. We were never made to walk this journey alone.
How is your fellowship in leadership going? If you are trying to go it alone, you are making a grave, foolish mistake. I encourage you to build a network of leaders to lift one another up during the certain trials of this journey.