One of the loneliest place on the earth can be serving as a pastor of a local church. Many pastors would agree with that statement. I (Michael) know in my heart that, having had the privilege of serving as a pastor for over 27 years, I have faced many times of loneliness in the ministry. The Lord has certainly been faithful to meet my needs and comfort me in times of aloneness, but it’s been “an advocate” who has been the hands, feet and arms of Jesus when I needed it the most. Webster’s Dictionary tells us that an advocate is someone who promotes and supports the interests of another. I have discovered that I needed an advocate in my life and ministry. For me, it’s been my friend, Andy Spencer who has supported me and lifted up the needs of my family. God graciously involved Andy to remove my aloneness!
Loneliness in ministry leads to discouragement, disillusionment and even the possibility of leaving the ministry altogether. For a pastor, discouragement can easily come if no one ever indicates that he measures up or affirms his calling. In a September, 2015 the Pastor Protection Research Study, surveyed 1500 American pastors (LifeWay Research (lifewayresearch.com) conducted the research in partnership with North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention), and discovered that:
The Pastor Protection research highlights the reasons why many full-time pastors often become discouraged and lose their passion for carrying out the ministry in their local church. Disillusionment can cause pastors to grow weary and feel deeply alone in ministry. For instance, when a sermon series does not produce the desired results, or when an evangelistic outreach does not go as planned, it can leave the pastor feeling vulnerable and ineffective, and thus
produce questions about ministry vision or even ministry calling. There is an alarming rate of dropout among pastors in North America because many who get discouraged and disillusioned struggle to withstand the inevitable pressures that come with life and ministry. In his letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul described this phenomenon as a condition wherein people have made a shipwreck of their faith.
Disillusionment can cause pastors to grow weary and feel deeply alone in ministry. That’s why today’s ministry leaders need an advocate – someone who can come alongside and help buoy their faith in Jesus as well as their passion for ministry. This ministry was started with the hope of removing the aloneness that is often associated with a pastoral ministry. We also hope to reveal how pastors can open their heart to experience friendship with a “pastor’s advocate”. This advocate will be able to offer encouragement and support to the pastor personally and then champion the pastor’s vision in the work of ministry. Finally, this resource seeks to encourage church leaders to become the kind of advocate who can help the pastor – not only to survive in ministry, but thrive in it.