Strategies for Pastors and Leaders

Dr. Dinesh S. Michel

Loneliness is a common human experience that transcends age, occupation, and social status. Even in the context of church ministry, where pastors and leaders are surrounded by a congregation, it’s possible to feel isolated and alone. This article explores the unique challenges of loneliness within church ministry and offers strategies that I myself am using to combat it.

The Loneliness Paradox

At first glance, it might seem paradoxical that individuals in church ministry, who are often surrounded by a community of believers, can experience loneliness. However, ministry can be isolating for several reasons:

Role Expectations:

​ Pastors and leaders are often seen as spiritual guides, and there’s an expectation that they should have it all together. This can make it challenging for them to admit their struggles, including loneliness.

Lack of Peer Relationships:

​ While pastors and leaders have strong connections with their congregations, they may lack close peer relationships within their own ministry circles. They often shoulder the burdens of others but may not have someone to share their own burdens with.

High Stress Levels:

​ The demands of church ministry, including sermon preparation, pastoral care, and administrative tasks, can lead to high stress levels. This stress can exacerbate feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Strategies to Combat Loneliness

  1. Seek Accountability:

    Pastors and leaders should actively seek out mentors or peers with whom they can build accountability relationships. These relationships provide a safe space to share struggles and receive support.

  2. Prioritize Self-Care:

    Ministry can be all-consuming, leaving little time for personal well-being. It’s crucial to prioritize self-care, including regular exercise, rest, and time for hobbies that bring joy and relaxation.

  3. Establish Boundaries:

    Set clear boundaries for work hours and responsibilities. Overextending oneself can lead to burnout and increased feelings of loneliness.

  4. Foster Peer Connections:

    Create opportunities for pastors and leaders within your church community to connect and build peer relationships. This can be done through small groups, retreats, or regular meetings specifically for leaders.

  5. Spiritual Discipline:

    Deepen your spiritual discipline. Regular prayer, meditation of the word, and reflection can provide a sense of connection with God, helping to alleviate loneliness.

  6. Professional Counseling:

    Don’t hesitate to seek professional counseling if loneliness becomes overwhelming. Therapists can provide guidance and support to address these feelings.

Loneliness in church ministry is a real and challenging issue. However, with awareness and proactive steps, pastors and leaders can combat these feelings and create a more supportive and connected ministry environment. Remember that it’s okay to seek help and that you don’t have to battle loneliness alone. By prioritizing self-care, seeking peer relationships, and deepening your spiritual discipline, you can find greater fulfillment and connectedness in your ministry journey.

More Than Equals – Women on Paul’s Team

More Than Equals – Women on Paul’s Team

Let’s examine an important issue in many parts of the Body of Christ. Biblically, “What is the role of women in the church?” As a prophetic reformer, I have an assignment. I’m trying to write my vision and make it plain so leaders can run with it! I’m for church growth, evangelism, and the Great Commission!



Recently, an acquaintance asked me, Do you have someone you are training to take over your ministry? Are you planning for your successor? If that question was not enough, they then asked, “What will your legacy look like?”



After battling brain cancer for 9 months, my dad went home to be with the Lord on April 4, 2023, at 2:38pm. It was 5 days before his 65th birthday, which was also Resurrection Sunday. My entire family – mom, my two brothers, my sister, our spouses, and every grandchild – were in that room when Dad took his last breath. You could never orchestrate it. But God was amazingly faithful to bring us all together for his passing.

All the way through my dad’s journey, he never allowed cancer or death determine his faith’s trajectory. He would meditate constantly on The Word and converse with the Lord on a daily basis. Even when he was declining in his final days, my mom asked him what he was thinking about… He whispered, “God.” My dad was immovable from his first love, and it is fitting that he is finally where he has always longed to be his whole life!

Anyone who has lost a loved one knows the dichotomy of your thoughts and feelings. Feeling devastated and heartbroken, yet knowing full well we will see him again, and how both remain completely relevant! Even Jesus, knowing full well that He could, and would, raise His friend Lazarus from the dead still wept with Mary and Martha (John 11). Jesus was demonstrating that grief and death is not an indicator that God’s blessing and goodness towards us has lifted. In fact, it is quite the opposite –

This is the very meeting place of God’s blessings in our life!

Matthew 5:3-12 says,


“Blessed are the poor in spirit,

   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.


Blessed are those who mourn,

   for they will be comforted.


Blessed are the meek,

   for they will inherit the earth.


Blessed are those who

hunger and thirst for righteousness,

   for they will be filled.


Blessed are the merciful,

   for they will be shown mercy.


Blessed are the pure in heart,

   for they will see God.


Blessed are the peacemakers,

   for they will be called children of God.


Blessed are those

who are persecuted

because of righteousness,

   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.


“Blessed are you when people insult you,

persecute you

and falsely say all kinds of evil
against you

because of me.


Rejoice and be glad,

because great is your reward in heaven,

for in the same way
they persecuted the prophets

who were before you.

These Beatitudes are incredible. They are telling us that at every low point in our lives, there is a blessing waiting
for you!

I have never felt more limited, small, or poor in spirit than when I sat and watched my dad deteriorate rapidly. I was at a loss for words and at the limit of my faith. I was weak, and I became aware that there was a war for my weakness.

Just as much as God had a plan and purpose of blessing for me in this very moment, the enemy also had a plan and purpose. There were 2 invitations I could accept – the invitation to believe the blessings and promises of God. Or the invitation to doubt.

There are a myriad of factors as to why a bad thing may happen to a good person. But there is always one thing you can count on:

God always wants to bless you in those moments
and the enemy will try to plant doubt in your mind
to steal that blessing.

In 2 Corinthians 12:9-11 Paul reveals,

But He said to me,
My grace is sufficient for you,

for My power is made perfect in weakness.”

Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly

about my weaknesses,

so that Christ’s power may rest on me.


That is why, for Christ’s sake,

I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships,

in persecutions, in difficulties.

For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Although my dad’s death was far earlier than anyone would’ve preferred, there is no victory for the enemy in it. I stand firmly on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and I am determined to see this weak, heartbreaking, grievous point in my life become the catalyst for blessings, as well as furthering the Kingdom of Heaven!

For you dear reader, like my dad, I pray you will never allow persecution, injustice, grief or even death to cause you to waiver in your faith. That when there is a war for your weakness, and the enemy asks you, “Did God really say…?”  You will answer “Yes. He did!” every time.

This is how we inherit the earth, see God, and advance the Kingdom of Heaven.

“The thief comes only

to steal and kill and destroy;

I have come that they may have

and have it
to the full

John 10:10

Listening – An Act of Love

Listening – An Act of Love

Good listening is truly an act of love.

I have been a teacher most of my life… And because I know that God is a good listener, I have tried to practice and improve upon this skill in my own life.

We may have entered March, but February was the “month of love.”

I remember an incident where using “listening as an act of love” gave us a breakthrough with a student we had struggled with at the school where I was principal for years. When this young lady was sent my office once again, I sat her down and we spoke. I shared with her that I care enough to listen to her heart, but that I also have time to spend just with her.

During the conversation, she shared that she had found pornography on her dad’s phone. I listened to her pain “all the way to the bottom.” Incredibly, she was a changed girl – because she knew that I loved her… simply due to me having time to listen!

The heading of Philippians 2 is Be Like Christ. In the first few verses of this chapter, we are reminded to show love one to another, to do everything with an attitude of humility, to regard one another as more important than ourselves – to look to Christ as our example in selfless humility. Paul Tillich said, “The first duty of love is to listen.”

The act of merely “being heard” is often a potent elixir of communication and connection. Listening can be defined as the “act of hearing attentively.” Listening is indeed a form of love! When you make the effort to listen, it demonstrates that you are interested in what is being said… interested in that person. Someone once said, “Listening is often the only thing needed to help someone.”

Listening is also a form of caring and respect. You listen attentively because you love others enough to level up in your relationship. Listening is one of the easiest things you will ever do as well as one of the hardest!!

Romans 10:17 says, “Faith comes by hearing (listening), and hearing through the Word of Christ.”

Active listening is a great act of faith and a great means of grace – both for ourselves and for others in our relationships. I read something that really exemplifies what I believe –

Poor listening rejects;
good listening embraces.
Poor listening diminishes the other person,
while good listening invites them to exist,
and to matter.

In James 1:19, he exhorts them to, “Let every person be quick to hear (listen), slow to speak, slow to anger.”

Too often we are slow to hear, quick to speak, and even quicker to anger.

Learning to actively listen will require:

1. Discipline
2. Effort
3. And intentionality

Good listening is an act of love… and the best way to love today is to “listen to someone’s pain all the way to the bottom.”

Bonhoeffer writes, “We should listen with the ears of God that we may speak the word of God. He who can no longer listen to his brother will soon be no longer listening to God either.” He also wrote, “Just as love to God begins with listening to his Word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them.”

Listening may be one of the hardest things to learn to do, but we will find it worth every ounce of effort. A Turkish proverb says, “If speaking is silver, then listening is gold.” We see that same principle repeatedly in the Book of Proverbs… It says a lot about hearing – or listening.

There is no specific verse in the Bible that says, “when we listen, we show love.” It does say to love one another – so I think its fair to say that listening to someone else with intentionality truly expresses love.

In conclusion, I am so thankful that God demonstrates His great love by listening to us. In Psalm 116:1-2, the Psalmist says,

“I love the LORD, because He hears me;
He listens to my prayers.
He listens to me every time I call to him.”

This is my challenge to you – in today’s society, that is all about “self”, determine and purpose to listen more intently to others. Don’t listen to provide a response. Listen with the intent to bring healing and demonstrate the heart of God to others!

The Different Types of Love

The Different Types of Love

It’s February… The “Month of Love”!

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. The stores are filled with all sorts of special gifts and cards specifically designed to express love. Restaurants are booked with reservations. The pressure to find that “perfect” gift is intense. Flower deliveries increase, with red roses being the popular choice. Romance movies are in high demand. In school, students exchange Valentine cards or wear red, pink, or white. When I was growing up, this was the perfect time to give a mixed tape of favorite love songs or maybe to pass a note –

Do you like me, yes or no?

It’s a total Celebration of Love!

And, honestly, I rebel against it!!! (Okay, I did paint some hearts on a couple of my fingernails…)

So, I was thinking about these “types of love”. I remember learning that there’s three words used in the original Koine Greek (don’t I sound so smart?!) to describe several versions of love that we feel for different people in a variety of situations. Those three words are: Agape (Uh-GAH-pay), Philia (FILL-ee-uh), and Eros (AIR-ohs). But then, to my surprise, I found out that there were actually four basic words for love when I began digging deeper! The fourth kind of love was Storge (STOR-jay). I thought it funny that I‘d never learned about that kind… Must not have been that important??

Want a brief rundown or refresher? Here you go!!

Storge is family love; it describes the naturally occurring, unforced type of love or affectionate bond between family members. It is used only a couple times in the NT. The next love is philia, or phileo love, and it refers to brotherly love or friendship, being used about 25 times in the NT. Then, we come to eros, which refers to a sensual or romantic love, generally of a sexual nature.

And then, I got “very studious” (SO proud of myself!) Researching eros, I found out that it was never used in the NT! It was, in fact, a Greek word that was used at that time, but never utilized in the Bible. Hmmm… Fascinating!!!

Okay, okay! Yes, it could be said that Song of Solomon is very much about eros (where we get the word ‘erotic’). This kind of love is truly fabulous (and should be FULLY enjoyed inside the marriage relationship that God designed!!! I’m married… that’s why I can say that!) But this can never take the place of or be mistaken for storge love. And it’s important to note that it wasn’t specifically used in the Bible.

And that brings me to the last type of love (which is also my fave!!!)

It’s agape

Agape is God’s perfect, immeasurable, incomparable, unconditional love. It’s more than simply an emotion. It is a sentiment that demonstrates itself through actions. Yet, it’s not contingent upon merit or worth. It’s sacrificial. It never fails. It never gives up. It is doing things for the benefit of another person, having an unselfish concern for another and the willingness to seek the best for another. It’s what Jesus did on the cross. It’s how God loved the world, referenced in John chapter 3. It’s how we’re supposed to love one another, revealed in John chapters 13, 14, 17, and more! Paul used it SIX TIMES in 1 Corinthians 13! Another interesting fact is that this term was rarely used in non-Christian Greek literature. That’s because this is a unique love.

God doesn’t just “have” agape, He “IS” agape!!!

See, the “month of love” or Valentine’s Day, only focuses on one type of love – one not even referenced in the Word! And this kind of love is what many people consider the “epitome of love”.  But, there is truly so much more encapsulated within love –

Love is not a feeling; it is an act of your will, and a choice that you make.

When asked, Jesus says that out of all the commandments, the greatest (or most important) commandment is love – to love God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is to love others as you love yourself. (Mark12:28-31) Love for God and love for others should motivate us. And not just any kind of love – but agape love!

How much hurt in this world could be healed if we simply followed these commands?

How much change could we affect if we really took these two commandments to heart?

How much more impact would the Body of Believers have if we walked in this kind of authentic love.

Sometimes, I choose to read a version of the Bible that many scholars don’t appreciate. (And yes – please, don’t build your theology upon it!) But, I do so love 1 Corinthians 13; and it is especially beautiful in the Passion Translation – here are verses 4 through 7:

Love is large and incredibly patient. 

Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. 

It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. 

Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. 

Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect,

nor selfishly seek its own honor. 

Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense. 

Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. 

Love is a safe place of shelter,

for it never stops believing the best for others. 

Love never takes failure as defeat,

for it never gives up.

Sometimes, love is keeping quiet and simply listening.

Sometimes, love is providing or being a safe place for someone to share the deep things of the heart, knowing they won’t receive judgement or condemnation.

Sometimes, love is encouraging someone, reminding them that all hope is not lost.

Sometimes, love is providing that shoulder for someone to cry upon.

Sometimes, love is pausing your busy-ness to just “be there”.

Sometimes, love is standing in the gap, praying with or for someone.

Sometimes, love is helping someone walk in genuine forgiveness.

My sweet mother (who is with the Lord) suffered much in her life, much injustice… She had been broken, shattered, abused, and struggled with her own worth. She sincerely believed that she did not have much (if anything) to offer to the Lord. But she read 1 Corinthians 13… and she got to the last verse where it says,

“These three remain: faith, hope, and love.

But the greatest of these is love.

And her prayer became:

    Lord, I really don’t have much to offer.
    But if I can do anything, let Your love flow through me.

    Let others feel Your love in me.

He heard her. He answered her. And He poured His immense love into her. Anyone who met her was overwhelmed by the love of Jesus. If she hugged you, you were surrounded by a love so tangible. She loved unconditionally. Without measure. It was demonstrated in her actions. She never gave up. She continued to believe regardless of what she saw. She always forgave, because she didn’t allow anything to staunch the flow of His love from streaming through her life. She was never quickly irritated or provoked to anger. She never held offense, although she had every “right” to hold on tightly. She always rejoiced in righteousness and truth. Because love does cover a multitude of sins.

And this was the example that I witnessed from young till she went Home to her eternal reward…

In my life, I have always tried to emulate that. My hubby says often, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” And that’s one of the ways we love the Lord – to love others. We’re supposed to be the answer to the world!!! Love doesn’t require you to “be ready”. I Corinthians 16:14 says, “Let everything you do be done in love – motivated and inspired by God’s love for us.” We just need to operate in love.

Today, I had such an amazing opportunity to share that love with a precious lady – a sister in the Lord, who I only met three days ago. She has been walking through days that have been dark, difficult, and discouraging. There have been personals trials. Hurt. There has been pain. Confusion. Physical battles. Loneliness. All she needed was someone who truly loves with the love of Christ to stop, to come along, to listen, to encourage, to pray over her, and to hug her (because you know hugs bring healing!!!) Someone who was willing to sacrifice the busy-ness of their schedule to offer a little time to hear her… NOT because I am so great. Definitely not! And goodness, no!!

But because how many times have I received that type of love from someone else – or from Him? What if that “little bit of time offered up” is what will make the difference in someone else’s life?? For them to get a breakthrough? To be healed and restored? To walk in freedom and the ABUNDANT LIFE available in Love? Because I set out to love, to not judge, to listen, and to share truth, it turned into a testimony, a friendship could be formed and freedom will be the result…. All because I took the time to love – with the same love that He loved me. And there’s nothing better than that!!!

John 13:34-35 says,

“I am giving you a new commandment,

that you love one another.

Just as I have loved you, so you too are to love one another.

By this everyone will know that you are My disciples,

if you have love and unselfish concern for one another.”

In this month that celebrates love, let us celebrate the agape with which Jesus went to the cross.

Let there be something that separates us from others.
Let there be agape that motivates all that we do.
And let us be known as His because we genuinely love!!!