It’s Lonely at the Top (or is it?)

It’s lonely at the top. That’s what they say anyway.

While that’s a reality for the majority of leaders (especially in the church), I’m not so sure it’s supposed to be that way. The greatest joy I have as a leader is the fact that I get to serve with guys that I just love to be around. They’re some of my best friends.  It’s not forced. It’s not always “professional”. And it’s not draining. Unfortunately, I’m in the silent minority. So what do you do if you find yourself leading in isolation?

Michael Hyatt, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Thomas Nelson Publishers, wrote some pretty insightful stuff about this on his BLOG, Intentional Leadership. His suggested starting point: Be the friend you wish you had. That makes complete sense to me. Leaders often forget what it’s like to be normal. Many times creating a “world” around them that serves them and exists for their own agenda. They are around people who “perform” for them so much, they forget how to be a friend themselves.

Here’s what he wrote:

Recently, I read that 70% of pastors don’t have any close personal friends. I have quoted this figure publicly and several pastors have confided to me that it is true for them. They admitted that they don’t have any close personal friends. This made me very sad. I think it is also true of CEOs and other leaders as well.

Why is this true?

I know that for years, I didn’t think I needed any close friends. I assumed that my colleagues at work and the people I went to church with were enough. I finally woke up the fact that I didn’t really have any close personal friends. All of them were either dependent on me in some way or simply acquaintances.

Since that time, I have been much, much more intentional about friendships. In fact, this is one of the “accounts” in my Life Plan. I have several great friends, most of whom live in my neighborhood. We get together on a regular basis and support and encourage one another.

When I mentioned this in a talk I gave recently at Catalyst West, one brave soul asked, “But what if you don’t have any friends? Where do you start?”

My answer? Be to others the friend you wish you had. It’s that simple.

For example, here are the characteristics I look for in a close friend. I want someone who …

  • Shows up for me when I am in a crisis.
  • Listens empathetically without judging.
  • Is willing to pitch in when I am too embarrassed to ask.
  • Affirms me when I doubt myself.
  • Reminds me of who I am, when I forget.
  • Celebrates my wins and mourns my losses.
  • Remembers the things that are important to me.
  • Trusts me with their secrets.

Do you wish you had that kind of friend? Well, God says that you reap what you sow (e.g., see Galatians 6:7).

To view Michael Hyatt’s blog site click HERE.

If you want this kind of friend in your life, then go BE this kind of friend to others. You might be surprised to see what happens.

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About Brandon Hatmaker

Church Planter, Missional Strategist, Non-Profit Collaborator, and Author of "Barefoot Church: Serving the Least in a Consumer Culture". View all posts by Brandon Hatmaker

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