Tuesday I had the great privilege of having breakfast with a group of ministers here in Conway. It is called the Conway Ministerial Alliance. This group is made up of all kinds of denominations and non-demoninations. These are great men that have some kind of ministry role at their church. There are actually few that are preachers. Once a month we all get together for about an hour sharing breakfast and conversation about being men of God, ministers in our churches, and how we can impact our entire community. These times are rich for me. I love the camaraderie and the sharing of scripture, prayer, and ideas.
In my past 15 years of full-time ministry I have always had a group like this. In Houston I was a part of a 25+ member group of youth ministers, male and female, from the Churches of Christ in that area. This was always rich in the same ways. I made some lifelong friends through those monthly meetings. In Abilene I was also part of a group of youth ministers for Churches of Christ. These men and women were extremely uplifting to me and their passion for seeing kids come to Christ was inspiring. These groups helped sustain me in a 13 year long career in full-time youth ministry.
People need support systems in order to thrive in any kind of life setting. Sometimes you may only need 1-2 family members and sometimes you need 25 somewhat strangers . As ministers we tend to pour much of ourselves into other people and many times in life-draining situations. Many of us also are burdened with different pieces of the institutionalized church, such as administration and simple concern for the church to move in the right direction. We cannot, nor should we do this ministry thing alone!! If we try to be the one-man show or shoulder all of our own emotions, we will burn out, could lose everything, and will most-likely leave ministry all together.
It is important, just as it was for Jesus, to have a number of people you can count on and lean on when necessary and that can lean on you. And within that number there should be a few that you know you can always count on in any situation. Sharing honest conversations and listening intently to how the Spirit works through them will allow your ministry to survive, for you to remain healthy, and not burden your family constantly with all the woes that come your way in a normal week.
It is a support system or as God likes to think of it....community!