Why Leaders Should Never Eat Alone

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Mealtimes are some of the most valuable and underutilized times in a pastor’s schedule.

Mealtimes are some of the most valuable and underutilized times in a pastor’s schedule.

I think I sensed that intrinsically, but Keith Ferrazzi helped me understand its full importance in a book titled Never Eat Alone—and I would recommend it highly. He’s obviously coming at it from a corporate and networking standpoint. However, his value for people comes through. For pastors, the book is easily adapted to the realm of ministry.

I eat alone sometimes, but not often. Those six hours a week (one and a half hours, four days a week), are too valuable to spend alone.

It’s not that I don’t like being by myself. In fact, I kind of love it. But, I am an extrovert who enjoys being around people—and I’ve found I can get more pastoring done during lunch times than I can on a Sunday.

There’s something about sharing a meal together that opens the door for good conversation, and I can’t tell you how much simply eating breakfast or lunch with someone has blessed our church over the years.

Some of the deepest partnerships and best ideas have come out of those simple gatherings.

It’s not about “networking”—though there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s about enjoying people.

1. Staff members.

Our staff team eats lunch together virtually every Monday. I’ll also try to spend some one-on-one time with each staff person once a month.

For those of you with larger church staffs, this obviously doesn’t scale. So, just use common sense. Ditto this for your elders if you have them. It’s well worth the energy to spend time here.

2. Members of the church.

I try to schedule at least one of these per week. It may be there is something we need to discuss.

More than anything, it’s just trying to bless people with genuine care and fellowship over a meal. People are so much more open between the Sundays—it’s a great time.

Sometimes, people will ask me. Most of the time, I simply ask them.

Tim Spivey Dr. Tim Spivey is Lead Planter of New Vintage Church in San Diego, California--a fast-growing plant launched in 2011. Tim is also the purveyor of New Vintage Leadership - a blog offering cutting edge insights on leadership and theology and the author of numerous articles and one book: Jesus, the Powerful Servant.

More from Tim Spivey or visit Tim at http://timspivey.com/

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  • Paul Flores

    Tim, I appreciate what you are saying. But please keep in mind a couple of realities. For starters, some of us are introverts, and “alone time” is not just a preference, it is a necessity for keeping our batteries charged. Even if I had the time and the money to eat lunch at a restaurant every day, I couldn’t do it and keep my sanity. When I do go out for lunch, my priority is my wife. From time to time it’s ministry-related. I’d rather have folks from the church over for a meal at my home in the evening. That may be an old-fashioned southern thing, but it has worked for us for a long time.

    Secondly, not every pastor can afford to eat out for lunch every day. In fact, I can do that only once every couple of weeks. I go home for lunch. How quaint, right? But again, it’s not just the money, but the need to recognize my temperament. I know a lot of pastors will benefit from your thoughts, but just wanted to stand up for the others who don’t fit the mold you are describing. We’re not all CEOs. : )

    • Brian

      I agree. Not everyone is an extrovert. I doubt you meant it, but this article sounds like only extroverts that LOVE being around people 24/7 will make good Pastors. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

      Ministry IS all about people….it always has been, and it always will be. But that doesn’t mean we need to be around them 24/7 to be ministering how God wants us to be!!!

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