This current year has opened my eyes to a flood of things including the undeniable value of friendship for every local church leader. As an introvert, I tend to replenish when I am alone and be depleted when I am with others, but…the isolation and separation that has largely defined 2020 has jolted me into realizing that I need relationship more that I would ever care to admit. And I am not very good at not only maintaining present ones but also developing new ones! The Lord, through a series of events that began in India just a few weeks before the world shut down in March, has dropped into my lap a relational concept that I am currently living out and would like pass on to you. Here it is: every ministry leader needs to belong to a “5”-five fellow ministry leaders who regularly gather online or in-person to simply encourage one another and help each other encourage others.
May I give you five reasons why, you pastor, no matter how you are wired, need this quintuplet connection:
- The number five, very practically, allows for a consistent, substantive conversation when invariably one or even two needs to miss the appointed time to see to the fluid needs/opportunities of ministry.
- The number five allows you to have a well-rounded perspective on any given issue from more than your individual or regional bias that tends to be a subtle part of the one-on-one only conversation. (Your wife and your staff cannot provide this much needed perspective for you!)
- The number five allows for a more empathetic, sincere connection between pastors from different generational perspectives and ministry backgrounds/contexts.
- The number five gives each of us a manageable number, with other familial and ministerial responsibilities, of fellow servants of Christ that we can personally encourage, pray for, hold accountable, and just share a laugh. (Much more than this amount leads to the leader being further overwhelmed by “another sizable group” instead of refreshed.)
- The number five gives us a predictable, intentional place to resort to in processing the ministry highs and lows in a Christ-like manner that is devoid of isolated bitterness, self-loathing, pride, or even taking yourself out.
While an exact five may not be everything, I think this number even has a bit of biblical foundation as referenced in Galatians 2:9 with a surprisingly diverse but collaborative team, “And when James, Cephas (Peter), and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me (Paul) and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.” Oh what “heathen and circumcised” could be reached with/discipled by the Gospel if we would extend “the right hand of fellowship?!”
The human hand does its best work when it possesses five healthy fingers-each individually gifted and working in concert with the others. The same can be said for those doing the work of the ministry…five who are together! For the sake of Jesus and everyone He yearns to reach through your ministry, would you join me in launching your “5” as we close out this difficult year that can be-if you will let it-relationally redemptive?
Here is a recent conversation on this very subject with my God-given “5”-pastors from Ohio, California, Michigan (yes you read that right for the Buckeye writing this post :), and Texas: