On the re:create cruise last week, Pete Wilson addressed the pastors in the room and said that they need friends. Not just people in their churches, but friends. Real friends. He went on to explain that many call these “clicks” and that’s okay, they’re the trolls (the troll comment is mine – not Pete’s). While he commented that he was talking to the “pastors” this statement struck me.
Pastors know they need friends. Their flocks don’t understand their role in supporting this. Me included.
What does this mean for loving people who want nothing more than the best for their pastor? Consider your pastor as your “pastor” instead of a “friend”? For example, my pastor Robey Barnes made huge efforts to serve Sheri and I during a personal crisis. Including jail visits, personal time with both of us, and a lot of prayer. We grew close during this time. But that should not be confused with friendship. My pastor is just that. He’s my pastor. I don’t need him to be my friend – I need him to speak spiritual truth into my life. Friendship comes from others.
There also another aspect of this I reflected on through a series of questions:
- At what life stage are you in? Is your pastor in a similar stage?
- Would you be friends if it weren’t for the church?
- Could you leave the church and still be personal friends?
- Can you follow your closest friends? Follow like followership follow, not like follow him and his wife to the restaurant.
- Is it a natural friendship? Don’t confuse a personable personality with wanting to be friends. Pastors are in the people business. They’re personable. Don’t get too excited or overreact to your feelings. They’re nice people. They love you. But that’s not an invitation to friendship.
- Have you invited your pastor to your home? What was the reaction? Did he come? If not, he may not be interested in more than the pastor relationship – likely not close friends.
- Most importantly: why do you want to be friends with your pastor? What’s motivating you? Why does it matter if you’re friends or not? Check your motives.
I discussed this briefly with my pastor last weekend at an event we were both at. We’re friendly, we’re personable, we love each other, I would lay my life down to protect him. But friends? Not really. I’m 45, he’s almost 30. I have 21 and 13 year-old kids. He has none. His wife is a social worker. Sheri’s a global business executive and coach. If it weren’t for our pastor/flock relationship, we would have no relationship. Why should I expect to be friends because I belong to his church? My only motive would be purely selfish.
I know this will likely tick some folks off, but I feel people need to think about their pastor’s lives. Including their friends. In fact, as leaders in your church you need to hold your pastor accountable to ensure he and his wife have friends. Real friends. People they do life with, go on vacation with, people likely outside your church. Don’t be offended.
Are you bothered that your pastor might have friends that don’t include you? Why?