Lonely Leadership

Community’s not just a good idea—it’s essential!

I walked off the stage, the title to my presentation—Community in Leadership—in bold at the top of my speaking notes. I had just spent 40 minutes convincing women leaders of the power and importance of being intimately involved in community with others.

Ironically, or perhaps hypocritically, I was the loneliest, most isolated person I knew. Mentally, I knew leadership and relationships weren't mutually exclusive. I just couldn't convince my lonely heart. As I battled feelings of loneliness, I realized I harbored several patterns of thinking that kept me feeling alone.

Lonely for God. I was doing all the right things–praying, reading my Bible, serving Jesus in ministry. Yet here I was, lonely. It seemed like God had abandoned me. Wasn't he supposed to meet all my needs? Had I done something wrong? Or not done enough for him?

Oddly, for all the praying I was doing, the one thing I didn't talk about with God was my loneliness. It seemed bringing it up would be tantamount to accusing him of not being able to meet my needs. For some reason, I thought I should be able to take care of loneliness on my own.

One morning, as I was dutifully reading my Bible, I came across the familiar verse in Philippians that reminds us to present our requests to God in every situation. I took God at his word and bared my soul. God, would you bring me some friends to fill the void? God, is there something wrong with me? Do I need to adjust my expectations? Is this simply a season? What are you trying to teach me? Just being able to share my feelings was a relief.

Lonely Expectations. All through grade school, I wanted a little girl exactly like me to move into our neighborhood. I wanted someone who would understand everything about me–what it was like to look different from everyone else, to be too embarrassed to admit I was a Christian at school, to want respite from an annoying little brother as much as I did. I wanted a best friend.

Life isn't so different as an adult, even if you are a leader. I still want a BFF. But I've discovered no one can understand all of me. My mom-friends can commiserate with me about the daily grind of mothering. Ministry friends understand the unique struggles I have reaching women for Christ. My Asian American friends resonate with the cultural pressures I feel. But I have yet to find a friend who gets all of it.

Friends struggle alongside me as I try to understand God's ways. They rejoice as he changes my perspective. But they cannot understand all of me, nor can they fully process my raw emotions.

January 12, 2012 at 9:42 AM

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