If It Feels Differently: Handling Loneliness in Leadership

I read Elisabeth Elliot’s quote: “Loneliness is a required course for leadership.” 

I’ve been thinking about the strange feelings that come with greater and greater opportunities to lead and serve. You can’t quite name it, but something feels a little differently from what you’re used to. 

Do you know what I mean? 

Finally, a name: it’s what psychologists call the particular loneliness of leadership. 

Rarely, however, do leadership seminars prepare you for this experience. I think about Moses who so often had to walk separately ahead. Yes, he gathered elders and assistants, but mostly, he seemed alone. 

What was that like at night? What was that like to be amid thousands yet often alone? 

But I consider the benefits and hope to encourage those in leadership: This aloneness drives you towards your inner being and to more and more intimacy with God. It deeply connects you to your family. It clarifies how much you need a team. 

But it’s different. Do not fear: These strange experiences are normal and necessary. You aren’t alone in your aloneness. 

Plus, it’s like an illusion. You might feel alone and misunderstood and separate, but, in reality, you’re connected with and cared for and bonded to so many in your community. 

Finally, consider that God sees and knows all about this cost of leadership. He knows you precisely; He knows how to meet every need you have, including the need for fellowship and connection. Maybe He’ll surface other leaders for you to connect with. Maybe He’ll remove the feelings altogether. Maybe He’ll show you a little tweak that might help things feel better. Maybe you just need one phone call with another friend across the nation who shares your role. 

Meanwhile, you’re not alone. 

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