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3 weapons to battle leadership loneliness

| by Tom Harper

Do you feel lonely or disengaged from time to time? The following three weapons can help you beat back the blues.

1. Develop an inner circle of staff.

Jesus built an intimate band of followers, namely Peter, James and John. These disciples accompanied the Lord on special occasions. He singled them out for special conversations and teaching. They were always listed among the first few names whenever the Twelve are mentioned in scripture. 

Jesus didn’t spend equal time and attention with all the disciples. His example is a wise leadership lesson: invest most of your time in a few people, rather than spreading yourself across your entire staff. 

The result will be closer, more manageable relationships and fewer demands on your time. You can’t intimately befriend a large group—Jesus himself didn’t. 

When you impart wisdom, training and love to a few people, they usually return loyalty, productivity and love in plenty. But the returns don’t stop with you—the benefits multiply to those your inner circle lead and work with. 

Your effectiveness broadens and deepens when you invest yourself in a handful of gifted people. As they do their job with excellence, you’ll feel a weight lifted off your shoulders.

2. Keep your work in perspective.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” 

When your people start crowding in with cries for help or your task list overwhelms, rest in the Lord’s encouraging promise: “every activity” will have its own time. 

Pursue your Sabbath with the same fervor you give to your responsibilities. Guard and gird your marriage and family time with prayerful determination. Schedule and protect quiet moments with God.

Ask the limitless Lord to find time for every commitment in your finite schedule. He will surprise you with efficiency, effectiveness and progress. He will guide your steps if you give Him control of your daily walk. When I cry out to Him in the midst of a crushing workload or stifling stress, He gives me respite. 

Pray for perspective on your work. View your career from eternity and in the light of scripture. Ask the Lord to show you the most important tasks and conversations He wants you to focus on today, and to encourage you with long-term vision. 

Sometimes lifting up your eyes to see the big picture—and the far future—lessens the power that loneliness and overload wield at the moment.

3.  Latch on to a few friends.

Friends are important weapons against loneliness. 

They know you better than any of your staff do. They remember the younger you before the leadership spotlight glistened. They understand the inner you, the person behind the mask. 

If they know you’re tired, depressed, frustrated, sad or bored, then your secret is safe with them. No matter how believable your façade may be, you can’t hide for long from these trusted souls. You won’t be alone if you dump your troubles on a close-lipped friend.

If you don’t think you have time for deep friendships like this, how about an occasional lunch, coffee, e-mail or phone chat? Sometimes I go for months without contacting any close friends, and when we finally get together, it’s like a mini-reunion. 

Those friends that accept you no matter the circumstances deserve your devotion. Give attention to them as the years pass by. They’ll give you so much more in return.

One more weapon

Most of us feel alone or down at various times, for various reasons. My bonus weapon for you is simply to believe there is a time when you’ll be up again and to have patience with yourself on the way there.

He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. 

– Psalm 23:2-3a

Photo source: istock


Tom Harper

Tom Harper is publisher of BiblicalLeadership.com and CEO of Networld Media Group, the site's parent company. He has written three books, including Through Colored Glasses: How Great Leaders Reveal Reality (DeepWater Books, 2018), Leading from the Lions’ Den: Leadership Principles from Every Book of the Bible (B&H, 2010), and Career Crossover: Leaving the Marketplace for Ministry (B&H, 2007). Tom serves as a lay leader at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Ky., where he attends with his wife and three children.



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