There’s a mountain of evidence suggesting that the quality of our relationships has been in steady decline for decades. In the 1980s, 20 percent of Americans said they were often lonely. Now it’s 40 percent. Suicide rates are now at a 30-year high. Depression rates have increased tenfold since 1960, which is not only a result of greater reporting. Most children born to mothers under 30 are born outside of marriage. There’s been a steady 30-year decline in Americans’ satisfaction with the peer-to-peer relationships at work.
Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy summarized his experience as a doctor in an article in September in The Harvard Business Review: “During my years caring for patients, the most common pathology I saw was not heart disease or diabetes; it was loneliness.”
"Consciously bringing into awareness your child’s likable gifts and qualities keeps these in the forefront of your mind and brain, mediating how you respond to disappointing behavior and challenging situations."
Pastors of small churches have every reason to be encouraged. We’re not the junior varsity team. The idea that our work is insignificant reflects the world’s values, not God’s values. Because it’s so counterintuitive, we need to take regular steps to recalibrate what we think.
Merely to enumerate the desirable qualities of a leader would accomplish little. But a consideration of some of these qualities will serve to illustrate the characteristics which we should watch for in others and which we should strive to develop in ourselves in order to prepare ourselves to be better leaders.
Face it: To use spiritual gifts, there will be risks; things will get messy. But we must be willing to make mistakes. We need to accept that, right now, so that we can seek to exercise spiritual gifts. This teaches us to learn dependence, not upon the gifts, but upon the Giver who gave them.
Not all of us have the luxury of taking a sabbatical 5-7 years into our church plants, but I would encourage all pastors reading this to begin to have serious conversations with your elders or leadership teams about the necessity of sabbaticals for your spiritual, emotional, and physical health.