You’re in a new season where you have to physically isolate, navigating a new normal of ministry rhythms. You might be teaching to a camera and as the session ends, no one is there but the camera guy (or just your laptop or phone), and that’s hard. You are Zoomed out and ready for fresh contact with those you lead. This change can bring out anxiety, depression, and all sorts of other feelings and emotions. You have probably found it easy to condemn or guilt yourself in this season. It’s important not to isolate but to lean into the resources the Lord has given you during this time.
Ministry leaders have a natural tendency to isolate. You don’t try to do it, but you drift towards it. Sometimes this happens because your hand is to the plow working or because you feel like you have no one to talk to. For some leaders it’s an issue of your own pride. Isolation can be a very dangerous place for a leader, whatever the reason. Isolation strips leaders of accountability, innovation, and progress. You become your own standard and that’s scary for everyone!
How does a leader defeat isolation when they are physically isolated?
Consistent Connection with the Father
When I get out of my routine this is always the first thing to go. I have to fight for it. God’s Word consistently pushes the reader to community. Immerse yourself in God’s Word and prayer. Set a time and place each day to do this. If you can’t set a time and place, seize whatever moment the day allows. The Lord understands that you are in a place of figuring out a new normal and that’s okay.
Get out of the house and enjoy God’s creation. Being in front of a screen all day can zap your energy. Enjoy what God has made and get some vitamin D! It will also give you the chance to meet people in your community you otherwise would not have met.
Plan Your Community
Increase the frequency of engagement with the people you love. Make a plan to schedule phone calls, Zoom meetings, FaceTime calls, houseparty app hangouts, Marco Polo’s, or 6-feet physical meet ups with the people you love. Think of family members, friends, mentors, or those you disciple as people you can engage with. If you only think about it you will likely never do it, so plan the hangout.
During my downtime I send Marco Polo messages to my team with whatever is on my mind. Sometimes it’s just small talk, sometimes it’s something fun; just something to continue to keep me connected to the people I love and work with.
This is a great time to start researching avenues to network. Therefore, find websites, Facebook groups, relevant hashtags to follow, or local places to support during this time. This will help you interact with new people and ideas that will leave you with another community you did not have before. I have also found that people are more open during this time to connect and work together.
Reach out to a local college ministry or even several of them, set up a Zoom and talk through what you are experiencing and how you can work together. Pray for each other. This will enrich your ministry and theirs as well. I’ve often found that the silver bullet you’re looking for is often in collaboration with other leaders.
We have a Facebook group specifically designed for church based college leaders in Texas. It has 200+ leaders from all over Texas. You can join our Facebook group Roundup Network. We have discussions happening all the time and it will keep you updated on collaborative events and hangouts.
Several years ago Collegiate Collective started and still continues in the form of a Facebook Group. It is an excellent resource to connect with leaders from all across the nation who are church based and campus based ministry leaders.
If you have any other ideas on how to not isolate yourself, leave them in the comments below. I would love for us to work together by idea sharing and collaborating on how we can all win during this time of isolation.