By Mark A. Taylor
Maybe most wouldn’t suspect that loneliness, discouragement, temptation, and insecurity are companions of the person leading their church—especially growing, dynamic ministries like those led by the four guests in our most recent Beyond the Standard podcast.
But each of them—Ben Cachiaras, Tim Harlow, Eddie Lowen, and Greg Nettle—admitted to at least one of these problems. And all four credited their association with each other as a key to rising above barriers to emotional and spiritual health. They’ve created a group where they’ve found the freedom to confess sins, share doubts, discuss problems and possibilities, and discern God’s will.
As reported in our October issue and described in the October 20 online interview, these guys have been meeting together for more than a decade. At first the agenda was to trade leadership resources and preaching ideas. But, almost immediately, there was more. They shared a common concern to “end well,” they report. They’d seen more than one minister whose final years of service were marred by personal or leadership failures, a fate all four are committed to avoiding.
Their need for each other is not unique. Barna Group President David Kinnaman reported in the Fall 2015 Leadership Journal on a two-year project in partnership with Pepperdine University to “research the needs, challenges, and overall wellbeing of today’s pastors.” One initial finding:
Just two out of five pastors say they are very satisfied with their overall quality of life, with their spiritual wellbeing, with their mental and emotional health, and with their friendships. More than two out of five say they are struggling (or have struggled in the past) with depression.
In the same issue, H.B. Charles Jr., pastor with Shiloh Metropolitan Church, Jacksonville, Florida, wrote, “There are stresses and struggles in ministry we cannot share with members of our churches. We need other preachers we can be honest, share our hurts, and pray with.”
This is exactly what’s happening with this group of four preachers.
Listen to our discussion to learn:
- How they stay in touch (spontaneously almost every week, through e-mails, texts, or phone calls)
- When they get together (at least twice per year, at a destination away from home)
- What they do when they meet (golf, ski, hike: these are not extended encounter groups, but the activity provides the setting for sharing)
Each of them has been encouraged by their elders or board members to keep this relationship going. In fact, their churches or ministries help underwrite the expenses of traveling to meet.
“There’s nothing more valuable than this kind of relationship,” they testified when we talked. We could hope every minister or ministry leader would pursue some version of what these guys have created.
Find the whole hour-long interview here: www.blogtalkradio.com/standardpublishing/2015/10/20/beyond-the-standardquitting-solitaire. Go to www.blogtalkradio.com/standardpublishing to discover a rich archive of Beyond the Standard podcasts to share with others at your church.