Once we have acknowledged the challenge of loneliness in the pastorate, we need to identify some additional steps in coping with this loneliness. As was mentioned yesterday, one unfortunate tactic for coping with the pain of loneliness is to build a shield around you so that though outwardly you are interacting with others, inwardly you are shutting down. To counter that, it is important that a pastor intentionally build some community experiences that touch feelings of joy, nurture, and pleasure. If you are married, you need to deliberately schedule with your partner some fun experiences and some nurturing of each other. Life is an intricate web and sharing feelings with one person can nurture our capacity to be sensitive to feelings among others. For single pastors, the need is no less real but needs to be pursued in another manner.
A second step might be to find a colleague, perhaps in another denomination or even another faith community with whom you can occasionally share your challenges and your joys. Several times during my ministry, I found that type of kinship with a Jewish Rabbi or a Muslim Imam. Being outside my particular faith but sharing similar challenges within his or her faith allowed us to care for each other in special ways.
I have already mentioned the value of a Spiritual Director or counselor with whom you can meet regularly.
Given our modern technology, one might find a value in establishing a skype relationship with a clergy who shares a similar position in another part of either this country or another country. A regular scheduled conversation by such a means could have mutual benefits.
A focused discipline of prayer and Scripture study that made use of the psalms of lament and others laments such as shared by Jeremiah could also help you wrestle with the challenge of loneliness in a spiritual context.
The critical issue is not to deny the burden of loneliness and to seek out means to keep centered in the community that can restore you.