The second paragraph of the first chapter grabbed my heart. “Maybe God didn’t call me to the ministry. Maybe I should just quit. I could never take my own life, but right now I’d rather be dead than dying this slow death. I know Jesus wants me to pay the price, but this is too much for me and my family to bear” (p. 13). I had to keep reading. This book had something to say and I wanted to find out what counsel it offered. How great it was to know that I was not struggling alone with difficulties, doubts and stress.
If you are a pastor, you need something in your life beyond your family and church to help you face the pressures, stresses, and difficulties of ministry. Before you piously say, “I have the Lord, my calling and prayer – what else do I need?” let me appeal to you for honesty and humility. How lonely are you? Are you part of the eighty percent of pastors who are discouraged?
We pastors preach the importance of fellowship, discipleship, friendship and accountability in the Body of Christ. In sermons and in Bible study, we proclaim the “one anothers” – love one another, forgive one another, pray for one another, accept one another, encourage one another. Yet, we lack significant “anothers” in our lives to enable us to practice what we preach. Who do you fellowship with closely? Who challenges you to be faithful to the Word? Who are your close friends who can encourage you? Who holds you accountable? These are good questions for Christian leaders to ask themselves.
The entire focus of Kinnaman and Ells’ book is to present the need for “covenant friendships” to Christian leaders. This is that is taught in the “words of wisdom” in the Old Testament. Let me refresh your memory: