Many of us have experienced the loneliness that often comes from living a life on stage. It’s incredibly ironic how the most public of places can sometimes be the most isolating ones. You become accustomed to hundreds of people feeling like they know you deeply—after all, they look at you for 20-25 minutes a week, connect with your voice and soul, and feel spiritually led by you. However, the reality is that you might only know a few of their names and even fewer of their stories.

As worship leaders, we can sometimes slip into developing a very general sense of community, rather than a genuine sense of being known to the core. One of the most beneficial things I’ve ever done as a leader is to identify my “circle” — my group of close friends who I can be vulnerable with and feel known by. For me, there are 5 of them. They all live in various places around the country, but they all represent significant seasons of growth in my life and have played important roles in my spiritual journey. I’ve learned that the enemy does his best work in me when I succumb to isolation and slowly close off this circle. However, God often does His deepest work in me through the people He’s put in my life to challenge, support and encourage me in His ways.

Here are some practical things to think about as you create your inner circle.

  1. Avoid the temptation to isolate. When things get hard and overwhelming, learn to lean into your community, rather than running from it. Sometimes the hardest time to do this is when things get hard at church. It may feel way easier to put on a tough front and power through, but let surrender and vulnerability to those you trust become your better default.

  2. Limit your circle. Sometimes too much community can feel overwhelming. You’re probably discipling team members, working with staff, and overseeing a ton of volunteers each week. Consider picking 3-7 people that you internally commit to as your “inner circle.” Feel free to tell them or not, but try to connect with each of them once a week via text, call, or coffee date to love on them and feel loved by them.

  3. Get creative with your community. Maybe coffee dates aren’t your thing. Maybe you’re a full-time mom that barely has enough energy to prepare your set and minister to the congregation on Sunday, let alone build into relationships outside of that. Find settings that are practical and feed your soul while building deep relationships.

  4. Connect your worlds. Don’t let your on stage life drastically differ from your life off stage. Maybe part of your circle is another pastor on staff or a team member you trust and work with regularly. Perhaps part of your circle includes a mentor from your community. Whoever it is that you choose, be sure to have at least one person who truly understands and can relate to your context. They might be your best prayer support when the hard times come.

  5. Christ at the center. We say this all the time… but what does that actually look like? I think it means we do life with people as if Christ were in the room with us. Allow Him to be a part of your conversation. Allow prayer to be a normal part of the dialogue. When we feel most known by Him, it often spurns on the desire to be known by others.

How do you form personal community well as a worship leader? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

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