Are you really supposed to be lonely at the top?
While at a ministry leadership retreat recently, I overheard two women having a conversation about friendship. One woman asked the other if anyone ever invited her to have coffee or dinner, or to attend any event, for that matter. The other responded sadly that, although she had received 89 birthday messages on Facebook, she had not received even a single phone call to wish her a happy birthday.
The conversation continued as these two leaders tried to decipher who was at fault. Were they indeed too busy for others to be a part of their lives? Or did other people have a wrong perception of them? One of the women even broke down, asking the other woman, “Is there something wrong with me? Am I boring?”
Personally, I was glad not to be caught in the conversation because I would have had to confess to my own very recent pity party in which I was lamenting to God about how no one ever called me either. My own mother had neglected to call me during a crisis because she thought I was too busy! I could completely understand where these women were coming from. Sometimes it can feel so lonely in leadership positions.
But then I was reminded of John Maxwell’s book, Leadership Gold: Lessons I’ve learned from a Lifetime of Leading. John Maxwell opens his book with this quote: “If it’s lonely at the top, you’re not doing something right.”
I know a leader who is doing something right. Her name is Brandi Dorsett. One day Brandi called and asked me if I had time to join her for lunch. Knowing that Brandi worked a full-time job for the city of Bellevue and volunteered much of her vacation time to be a presbyter for the Northwest Ministry Network, I jumped at the opportunity to spend quality time with my dear friend. When we met, I asked Brandi if we were having this special occasion to meet for lunch because she had another meeting at my office, or maybe she was working in the area on a job.
Brandi replied, “I took the day off to build relationships with people that are important to me.” Do you think Brandi is lonely at the top? It is impossible for her to be lonely because she is an intentional relationship builder.
God has called us, especially as leaders, to be intentional relationship builders. We are to become encouragers of others and we are to be in relationships where we are encouraged by others. It is imperative to our spiritual and emotional growth. Scientists have proven that it is even crucial to our physical health.
Our relationships will influence the next generation and the world. It is understandable why the writer of Hebrews emphatically stated, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25 NIV).
What action will you take to become an intentional relationship builder today?