My wife, Rachel, recently shared brilliant wisdom about thriving in marriage and in ministry. In case you missed it, you can read that here.

But this week, I want to address the importance of having healthy friendships.

As a pastor I try to lead people towards Jesus and towards community. I know that loneliness and isolation are harmful to people, and I know that lots of people struggle with it.

But as leaders, that can be easier to preach than practice. A lot of us default to independence and lone-wolf leadership. The truth is that none of us are immune to the dangers that come with doing life alone. In his book The Common Rule, Justin Earley puts it this way:

“We have a capacity to make ourselves appear okay while hiding something that slowly kills us from the inside out.”

We will never be the leaders God has called us to be autonomously. We were made to be in community, and we need others to protect us from ourselves, point us to God, encourage us to keep going when we want to quit, and call us to the carpet when we’re about to do something dumb.

It might seem unbelievable, but there really are people near you who can be your friend in spite of your leadership role or position; there really are people who want to care about you and not just your influence. But these types of friendships don’t happen accidentally. They grow because we intentionally invest the time and (gulp) risk the openness required to move beyond the surface.

If you want to be the impactful leader God has called you to be, you need to have someone in your life that you’ve given permission to ask you at any given time, “Is there anything you aren’t telling me?”

If you don’t already have any friends like that, here are three things I recommend you do:

Pray

God doesn’t celebrate loneliness; we were created out of the triune godhead. He delights in community. Pray that He would give you discernment to know who a few trustworthy people are to start getting to know.

Intentionally Position Yourself For Relationship

If you’re not in a small group through your church, get in one! Over the summer at 2|42 we have In2It groups that bring people together over common hobbies and interests—position yourself to build community, and prioritize your time to be where other people are. Then go from there.

Keep Showing Up

Even when God answers your prayer, even when you’re hanging out with a group of like-minded people, chances are high you’re not suddenly going to have the type of friendship with anyone that takes years to develop; trust over time builds the really meaningful relationships. So you’ve got to show some initiative and start making the time for the same person or few people. Lean in, keep showing up, and let trust and time build.