Pain, suffering, disappointments, and hardships can only be effectively managed and sorted through within the context of community. I believe that with all my being. I may not live up to that truth; at times, I try to wade through my pain, suffering, disappointments, and hardships on my own…the typical “lone-ranger Christian” approach, which is a lonely road, and one we know is not God’s will for our lives. I want to conceal my weaknesses. I want to pretend that struggles and hardships roll right off me like teflon. However, the longer I embrace the role of a leader, the more I realize in the depths of my soul that I need good friends. You can read other posts on this subject here.
Ironically, most leaders aren’t very good at cultivating friendships with others. There are numerous reasons why this is the case, not least of which is because many of them simply don’t want to convey vulnerability. A leader has it all together! A leader is the one in charge! A leader has all of the answers! A leader isn’t weak! Yeah, that’s not leadership.
“People with deep and lasting friendships may be introverts, extroverts, young, old, dull, intelligent, homely, good-looking, but the one characteristic they always have in common is openness.” Alan Loy McGinnis, Friendship Factor
Being a leader is difficult, and many times it is emotionally, physically, and spiritually exhausting. One indispensable reality in a Christian leader’s life is what Chand calls a “pain partner.” This is someone who is a cherished friend who provides a safe place and someone you can honestly share your pain, suffering, hardships, and disappointments with.
Here are some questions you can ask an individual or they can ask you, that will help you on your way to being a good friend:
- Who in your life “gets you” and doesn’t think you’re weak or strange when you wrestle with the complexities of your role?
- Who listens to you without feeling compelled to give you advice?
- Who asks second and third questions to draw you out instead of giving pat answers, simple prescriptions, and easy formulas?
- Who is your safe haven so you can be completely honest and open?
- Who fills your spiritual and emotional gas tank?
The person that regularly comes to your mind is probably the first person you need to connect with to share those struggles, secrets, and sins with; otherwise, you’ll not only not thrive as a leader, you’ll ultimately drown in the waters of loneliness and discouragement.