Pastors need friends. Just like everybody else, pastors need the many benefits of authentic Christian community. They have the same need to belong as you and me, but for some reason it’s especially difficult for them to cultivate healthy friendships. Here are a few reasons why that might be:
They feel the need to be perfect
Some people expect pastors to be perfect—to have a proverb loaded up and ready to deliver at any moment’s notice. False expectations hang over some pastors’ relationships. They isolate themselves for fear that they might accidentally damage their office by a stray word or thoughtless action.
They avoid hard conflict
Ministry is messy. Pastors often wind up holding a lot of interpersonal complexity. Resolution often requires confrontation, and that can be very scary for a pastor whose livelihood may be on the line. It’s rare to hear of a pastor losing their job because they didn’t confront a conflict, but many “meddling” pastors have found themselves on the chopping block. When you see unresolved conflict around every corner, it’s easier to just shy away.
They’re too busy
We all get 24 hours in a day. Understanding why some pastors don’t have many friends only takes a little arithmetic: four hours on sermon prep, four on counseling, four on administration, four with their family, two on meals, and six sleeping. Many pastors pack their days so full of important ministry functions that there isn’t room for anything extracurricular, like friendship. Of course, that lifestyle is far from sustainable.
They’re surrounded by “takers”
Many people want something from the pastor—prayer, advice, a reference, money from the benevolence fund, to use the gym, to make an announcement during service. If you thought you were going to get tapped for a favor every time you met someone for coffee, you’d probably be shy about making friends too.
They are a “taker”
Especially in small churches, the opposite can also be true. The pastor can easily become the church’s recruiter. If the pastor only calls when the worship team is short one guitarist, you tend to start ignoring their calls.
If pastors struggle to make and sustain close friendships, how can we care for them? How can we befriend them, and create a safe place for them to recharge their spiritual batteries? Tell us in comments.
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