A famous poet by the name of John Donne (1572-1631) once said, “No man is an island.” The past two years I have observed this to be so. Two years ago, in October, a group of fellow believers started The Shepherd’s Connection. This ministry was designed to address the pain, loneliness and challenges faced by those who serve in ministry. I asked one leader, who regularly counsels pastors, this question, “What do you perceive to be the greatest danger faced by ministers?” Without hesitation he said “isolation.” Translation, no man is an island.
In considering this topic I am reminded of Paul’s situation when he wrote II Timothy. “Make every effort to come to me soon, for Demas has deserted me, because he loved this present world, and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Bring Mark with you, for he is useful to me in the ministry. I have sent Tychicus to Ephesus. When you come, bring the cloak I left in Troas with Carpus, as well as the scrolls, especially the parchments. Alexander the coppersmith did great harm to me. The Lord will repay him according to his works.” (II Timothy 4:9-13) Paul experienced the heartache of desertion and felt the loneliness of saying goodbye to ministry associates. He recognized the importance of staying connected to other believers. He anticipated Timothy’s soon arrival. From this text I recognize several important truths we ministers should heed.
When we started “The Shepherd’s Connection” we chose a name with intentionality. We recognized the truths from Paul’s life. The key word is the word “connection.” Every minister needs to be connected. Paul recognized this truth and sought to be connected to two valuable resources.
First, Paul sought to be connected to ministry friends. Every minister faces isolation. Isolation has many causes: people’s expectations, the natural isolation of leadership, competition, jealousy, and insufficient time to prioritize personal relationships. Isolation goes with the position; however, we do not have to yield to it. We, like Paul, should seek to stay connected.
The Shepherd’s Connection encourages ministers to stay connected. We post weekly articles on our web site and ministry testimonies of those who have struggled in ministry. In staying connected you might consider the following suggestions.
- Attend a weekly minister’s meeting.
- Join an accountability group.
- Enlist an accountability partner with whom you communicate each week.
- Join a hobby group.
- Participate in a weekly prayer group.
Second, Paul sought to be connected mentality and spiritually. He asked Timothy to bring him the “scrolls and parchments.” This would be equivalent to you and me asking someone to bring us a Bible. Reading and ingesting spiritual truth is a refreshing discipline. In times of spiritual drought we tend to go to the well more often. We feel a need to be connected. Reading for spiritual refreshment has a proactive quality about it.
No man is an island! The members of The Shepherds Connection would like to encourage you to stay connected. Stay connected with other like-minded people and with books and resources that will feed your soul. We pray that God would sustain you for a long and prosperous ministry!