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Pastor, You Need A Friend

With recently hearing that 50 pastors a day are leaving the ministry my prayer is that this repost will be an encouragement to you.  You are not in this alone!!!

   Paul Becker of Dynamic Church Planting International recently shared this story. “Sundar Singh, a Christian missionary, was walking across the Himalaya Mountains from India to Tibet.  He was walking with another man to a village.  The weather was terrible.  It was extremely cold and stormy.  There was snow and ice on the trail and they were at a very high altitude.  Suddenly, Sundar looked down and saw a man who had fallen.  He said to his traveling companion, ‘We must go and save that man.’  But his companion said, ‘No.  If we try to save him, we will all die.’ 

     Sundar insisted on helping the fallen man.  His companion kept walking toward the village alone.  Sundar reached the fallen man and helped him up.  With their arms around each other’s shoulders, they struggled toward the village.  Just before they got there, they saw a man frozen to death on the trail.  It was Sundar’s first companion.  Sundar realized that it was their body heat and their struggle together that had kept him and the fallen man alive.”  We need each other!

     Ecclesiastes 4:11 says, “Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?”  Life change does not happen in a vacuum; it happens in relationship with others.  Ministry was never meant to be done by Lone Rangers!  According to H. B. London, Jr. in Pastors at Greater Risk, 70 percent of all pastors do not have someone they consider a close friend.  Ron Edmondson offers these seven suggestions for a pastor and pastor’s spouse finding friends:

     Be willing to go outside the church – The simple fact is that there may not be someone you can truly trust, who is willing to keep confidences, and willing to always be in your corner, inside the church. Much of this will depend on the size of your church. I have a few of these friends in our church, but it is fairly large. I also have some true friends outside the church.

     Consider bonding with another pastor – I guarantee you…not too far from you is a pastor just as lonely or in need of a friend as you are feeling. I’ve found that if I follow the Tweets, blog posts, Facebook updates, or check out the church website of another pastor that I can find out a lot about our similarities. Then I take a chance and reach out to him. You can begin a relationship online and turn it into a vital relationship. This is valuable enough to Cheryl and me that we’ve been willing to invest in traveling to visit with friends who live in other cities, but chances are good for most pastors they won’t have to travel that far.

     Build the relationship slowly – I’ve seen too many times where a person wants an intimate, accountable, life-giving relationship that begins instantly. I’m sure that happens occasionally, but I don’t think it’s the normal way. Take some time to invest in the friendship. My guess is you’re looking for a longer-term relationship, so be willing to build it over a long-term.

     Find common ground – Do you enjoy fishing, dining, travel, golf, or Nascar? Who are some people, whether pastors or laypeople who have similar interests to you? Take an afternoon to play a round of golf with them. Ask them to lunch. Hang out with them. I meet with a friend now regularly that I met this way. We simply started having lunch together. We’ve since traveled together as couples, but it started with a lunch invitation to a guy I saw who seemed to enjoy the subject of leadership as much as I did.

     Look for someone healthy – This is critical. You won’t find someone perfect, but you need someone who is not looking for you to always be the minister. They do exist. Most of the time as pastors our attention is focused more on the ones desperate for our attention. Who are the people around you who don’t need much from you right now? You’ll need this healthy relationship to nourish you when you don’t feel as healthy.

     Be intentional – You don’t often find a friend unless you go looking for one. Recognize the value in true friends, make it a matter of prayer and a goal for your life, then begin to look for one. I’ve found I’m more likely to hit a target I am specifically aiming to hit.

     Take a risk – You’ll eventually have to make yourself vulnerable and risk being hurt to find true friends. I realize that is scary, especially if you’ve been hurt before, but finding true friendships is worth the risk. Be careful building these type friendships, but don’t allow fear to keep you from having them.

     Pastor, you need a friend!