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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!

Pastors are Hurting

In 2 Cor. 11:28-30, Paul said, “Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.” Tom Rainer, President of Lifeway, recently shared a survey given to pastors about two primary sources of personal struggle in the ministry. It proves that the challenges of the pastorate today are real and need to be admitted so that they might be addressed and resolved.  “Not all the news about pastors is discouraging. Pastors feel privileged to be called to their places of ministry. They have a deep love for those they shepherd. Most of them could not conceive of doing anything else. But please hear me: Many pastors are hurting.

The Discouragement Factor: One of the key symptoms of the pain experienced by pastors is discouragement. Over one-half (55%) of pastors are presently discouraged. I suspect that if we surveyed pastors over just a few months, we would find that almost all of them experience deep discouragement.  Some interesting facts we discovered in our study:

  • There was no pattern of discouragement related to the geographical location of the church.
  • There was no pattern of discouragement related to the size of the church.
  • There was no pattern of discouragement related to the educational level of the pastor.
  • There was a significant pattern of discouragement related to the age of the pastor. The younger the pastor, the more likely he was to be discouraged.

The Loneliness Factor: Most pastors experience intense loneliness at times. When we conducted our survey, over one-half again (coincidentally the same number, 55%, as noted above) said they were lonely. Again remember that this survey was for a specific point in time. Which pastors experience the greatest amount of loneliness? Our study noted some discernible patterns:

  • There was no pattern of loneliness related to the geographical location of the church.
  • Younger pastors were more likely to be lonely than older pastors.
  • The larger the church, the greater the likelihood that the pastor was experiencing loneliness.
  • The greater the education level of the pastor, the more likely he is to be lonely.

Why the Pervasive Discouragement and Loneliness?” Rainer in an earlier blog offered the following as reasons pastors are struggling today and some are experiencing depression: spiritual warfare, unrealistic expectations, greater platforms for critics, failure to take time away from the church or place of ministry, workaholism, marriage and family problems, neglecting his family as he cares for the larger church family, financial strains, the problem of comparison.  Rainer went on to say, “This one thing I do know. Pastors need our prayers more than ever. They need our support and encouragement. I am committed to pray for my pastor every day, even if it’s only for a minute or so. Will you do the same? Our pastors pour out their lives for us daily. What can you do to help our pastors?”

Allow me to recommend to you, Leading on Empty by Wayne Cordeiro.

Do You Know How to Juggle?

Jam 3:15-18


     I don’t!  Juggling fascinates me but I have never been able to master it.  Maybe I don’t have the ability or maybe I never took the time to dedicate myself to learning how.  While juggling objects has never been one of my skills I have learned over the years a few things about the difficulties of juggling life.  In our Dynamic Church Planting International (DCPI) training we teach twelve biblical principles that are the foundation for every lesson. Principle #10 is: “The church planter’s walk with God, family life, and ministry must be in biblical balance.”  Now that can be quite a juggling act at times.


     Juggling the priority of your family and your ministry can prove to be quite difficult.  When the choice is not easy or you know that whatever decision you make is a “no win situation” it can make you feel like you are juggling 20 balls and they are all about to come crashing down hard to the ground.  Is there anything we can do that would help us juggle difficult situations, difficult people, and difficult decisions?  Yes there is!  Decide what you believe should be the top five priorities of your life.  Here is a suggested list:

  • ·         Your relationship with the Lord!
  • ·         Your relationship with your wife.
  • ·         Your relationship with your family.
  • ·         Your ministry.
  • ·         Your health.


     If you value these priorities then you must invest in them daily.  If they are not in the right order or if they are not taken care of properly your life could become a juggling act gone bad.  What we choose to value the most is what shapes us into who we are.  Remember, values are confirmed by actions, not by words.  They enable us to determine what to do and what not to do.  When you value your relationship with the Lord more than anything else in your life then many choices become easier.  When you value your wife and family over high maintenance members then you are not trying to juggle but rather you are choosing Godly priorities.


     What you value the most must tower over other decisions and then you are not juggling but you are making choices determined by the Lord, His word, and the Holy Spirit.  They are not just preferred values “saying” what is important to you but they are practiced values that are obvious patterns of behavior in your life.  Values are not preferences, they must be our convictions. Values have these characteristics:


  • ·         Consistent – they rarely change. 
  • ·         Passionate – they generate emotion and energy. 
  • ·         Biblical – they are rooted in scripture. 
  • ·         Distinctive – they reflect God’s unique assignment for your life.
  • ·         Convictions – they influence what you do! (not what you say)


     When a decision of equal value has to be made (what to wear, where to eat, etc) it can actually be a more difficult decision.  Raising the value of one option over the other is the key.  When one option has a much greater value than the other choice, it is much easier to decide.  For example, when you value your family it is clear that your first responsibility is to lead them before leading anyone else.  With Jesus as Lord of our lives a lot of decisions have already been made for us.  Establishing Godly values through conviction before you are faced with a difficult decision is invaluable. It makes decisions much easier because you have already decided you will make your choices based on Godly values.


     I recently read Kingdom Matrix, a must read, by Jeff Christopherson.  It has really challenged me in many areas.  Allow me to quote one of the things that really caught my eye and my heart.  “Positionally, I may have been transported from darkness into the Kingdom of Light, but functionally as a Little Christ, I must relentlessly choose to make Light-like decisions moment by moment.”  Don’t juggle!!!  The ministry tends to intensify the stress and strain of family life just like a magnifying glass intensifies the heat of sunlight.  Prioritize your values and make your choices based on those values as you are led by the Holy Spirit.