Every pastor needs at least one good pastor friend.
I’m thankful to serve and have served in churches with a good number of staff members I consider not only co-laborers, but friends. It’s a blessing to do ministry with people you actually enjoy being with each week. But, I also have several good friends who are pastors in other churches. And, it’s like gold in my pocket for me.
Just like only a police officer can fully understand the work of another police officer; or only a nurse can fully understand the work of another nurse — only a pastor can fully understand the work of another pastor.
That’s not to say a pastor shouldn’t have friends who aren’t pastors. Absolutely. I have many.
But, every pastor needs at least one pastor friend.
A part of my online presence affords me the tremendous opportunity to interact with dozens of pastors every month. One thing I’ve observed in recent years is that many of the pastors I encounter aren’t really looking for advice on how to lead a church. They are looking for a friend.
Sadly, many pastors don’t have any friends — not the kind who know them well enough to speak into their life. Perhaps even sadder is that some don’t seem to want one until they really need one.
And, I don’t know all the reasons pastors avoid close friendships. (I know some and maybe that’s the subject of another post.) But, so many pastors — in large churches and small churches — feel isolated in ministry.
I know some large church pastors who don’t even socialize or know their church staff. I know some smaller church pastors who don’t have anyone else serving with them during the week and haven’t made friendships with other pastors.
It simply isn’t healthy. And, it’s probably not sustainable. Isolation almost always leads to something undesirable, whether ineffectiveness or total destruction.
Here are 7 reasons every pastor needs a good pastor friend:
Accountability – Here’s the fact. Many pastors could hide if we wanted. We have flexible schedules. And, that’s just one example of where we need accountability. We need people in our life — who know our life and the demands of ministry — and can hold us accountable to our calling and work and speak into the deepest places of our life and work. The pastor is usually not absent of people who can offer criticism, but every pastor needs a friend who can correct them in a healthy way when needed. “The wounds of a friend are trustworthy.” (Proverbs 27:6)
Protection – I did some professional counseling for a few years. (I wasn’t very good at it.) But, one helpful thing in counseling was the ability to glean from one another in, for example, potentially perceived ethical situations. Pastors encounter issues routinely that don’t need to be handled alone. (The push back of my zealot friends will be that we have prayer — Holy Spirit guidance. And, I say true, but even Jesus asked the disciples to pray with Him.) “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17)
Companionship – Shall I quote the same verse again? “Two are better than one.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9) Let me be clear that my wife is my closest companion. She should be. But, I need pastor friends who can just be my friend. They understand the uniqueness of my role. They laugh at the same things I laugh at — and some days all you can do is laugh, right? They understand the unique burden of being a pastor. And, on days when I simply don’t feel like being anyone’s pastor — they understand that too and are not offended by me saying it. I’m not trying to be cute with words — but I need a buddy in ministry. (And, I’m thankful I have several.)
Iron sharpening. “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17) Biblical insight. Idea critiques. Brainstorming. Best practice sharing. Those and so many more. We can learn best from those who are attempting to do what we are attempting to do.
Pastor, you need a pastor friend. And, as much as I love connecting via Internet, certainly I am limited in my ability to “friend” everyone I encounter. You need one, two or three friends who you can get in a car or jump on a plane and actually spend some time with frequently.
And, to find one, for many pastors, it will take an intentional effort. It won’t happen just because you want it to happen. To make a friend you’ll have to be a friend. Take some positive steps. Ask a pastor to join you with coffee. Go through several pastors if you have to until you find the right one.
And, certainly, here’s a great place for prayer, ask God to guide you, help you discern, and give you the encouragement to seek out a friendship with another pastor.
I’m pulling from you.