Leader to Leader

For the Lonely Church Worker

January 19, 2017 | Posted by Emilie Finke

Awhile back, I wrote a blog post about loneliness. I wrote this blog post because I had been lonely and I was sick of being lonely. I wrote this blog post because I had recently learned a lot of people around me were also lonely. I wrote this blog post because God calls us to be in community and to be isolated in our loneliness is not of Him.

Here is a segment of the original post:

“One night, sitting around a picnic table with some beers and some friends, one of us admitted to feeling lonely. I stared with (what I desperately hope was) subtle shock. I had been utterly convinced that I was the only person in the entire East Tennessee area, quite possibly all of America, who felt loneliness. But one by one, around that picnic table, we each admitted to being lonely. I swear it was worse than coming forth with some deep, dark sinful addiction. Awkward, vulnerable, uncomfortable. And in the midst of the vulnerability and discomfort, an incredible, massive weight lifted off my chest and was replaced with joy and relief. I could finally, finally breathe.”

After I wrote this blog post, I was surprised by a lot of the feedback I received.

“Yes, being in church work is so lonely. We specifically have to deal with this loneliness.”

“Yes, women are more inclined to emotions like this. We specifically have to deal with this loneliness.”

“Yes, being single is hard. We specifically have to deal with this loneliness.”

Leaders, being in church work is hard. And we may have to deal with a specific brand of loneliness. But let me encourage you by telling you a little bit more about that picnic table.

Around that beautiful, vulnerable picnic table sat the following people:

A single male in his mid-twenties who was born and raised in this town. He hikes and creates and works as a manager at an apparel store.

A female in her early thirties in a happy relationship who has been in this town since college and now works in marketing. She is outgoing and loves even the most unlovable people.

A divorced male in his mid-thirties who has lived in multiple amazing places, but has now lived in our town for a few years, even gutting and flipping an old house. He throws a great dinner party.

A few others – males and females of different ages with different stories. Some have lived here their whole lives; some have only called this place home for a few months. Some love Jesus with every ounce of their being; some don’t know him at all. Some are single; some are in relationships. I’m the only one who works in a church. What a hodgepodge group, right?

I took two truths from this experience:

  1. There is both beauty and sorrow in the simple fact that the majority of Americans in this day and age are dealing with loneliness to some degree – perhaps specific brands, but common pain.
  2. It’s downright dangerous for even a small number of church workers to bear their secret loneliness with them like a martyr when there are other lonely people all around us who could use a friend.

You may feel alone in ministry from time to time, and rightfully so; but people are quietly desperate for true friendship. They desire true community.

Of course, true friendship and community and life and purpose and a million other wonderful things come from Jesus. But guess what? You know Him. You have complete access to a God who provides life and radiates joy, a God who promises to comfort the hurting and be a friend to the friendless. There are a lot of sacrifices church workers have to make, but friendship cannot be one of those sacrifices. Who better to boldly reach out in loneliness and connect with people than someone who intimately knows the source of community and connection?

So it may be awkward at first. In fact, it will probably be pretty hard. But I’ll pray for you if you pray for me.

Emilie Finke
Emilie Finke is a daughter of Christ with a heart for millennials. She graduated from Concordia University Texas and is currently serving as worship leader, women’s ministry, and social media coordinator at The Point Church in Knoxville, TN. She loves good coffee paired with good music on a long road trip, conversations that get way too personal way too fast, and any well-placed pun. But Jesus is even better than all that. Check out more of her thoughts on all things life and Jesus at meanderingsandramblings.com.