Finding and keeping friends can be very difficult for a pastor. It can be awkward for people to be friends with a pastor because they sometimes don’t want to invite their pastor over when they have the guys over for football. It is often easier just to think of your pastor as someone you see at church, not someone you hang out with. It can be hard for a pastor because there are times he wants to stop being a pastor and just be a guy. It is hard for him to turn that off and it is hard for those around him to let that happen.
Trust is also a big factor for pastor’s when it comes to choosing friends. Pastor’s will wonder, “If I open up to this person, will they use it against me? Can I be truly honest with this person?” As people in their missional community share a prayer request, it is difficult for a pastor to say, “This has been one of the worst weeks at work for me. I’m so frustrated with a co-worker.” Pastor’s and their wife often wonder when someone wants to hang out with them if there is ulterior motives. Do they want to be our friends because they like us or because of what we do? Sadly, people want to be friends with a pastor or his wife, simply to get closer to the center of the action, to be closer to the power as they see it in a church.
People in a church wonder the same thing. Does the pastor and his wife want to hang out with us because they like us or because they think we need ministry? When they hang out with us, are they working or having fun?
Friendship and community are incredibly important to surviving as a pastor or a pastor’s wife. But how does that happen. Brian Bloye, in his bookIt’s Personal: Surviving and Thriving on the Journey of Church Planting, talks about the 4 types of friends a pastor needs to have in the journey of church planting:
- The developer. A friend that makes you better. They encourage you, lift you up when you fall down, someone who believes in you during times you don’t believe in yourself.
- The designer. A mentor, coaching you in life and ministry. Someone who shares the wisdom they’ve gathered in life.
- The disturber. The friend who rocks your boat. He’s there to bring discomfort to your world, not comfort. This friend challenges your ideas, is not impressed by you. Not a yes man.
- The discerner. An accountability partner. Someone who looks you in the eye and asks the hard questions about your life and where you stand with things.