I love that I get to be pastor of a church where I have a lot of friends. It’s been one of the unexpected blessings of pastoring Redemption Church, but that doesn’t take away from the need of having friends outside of the church. In fact, I think that every pastor should have friends outside the church.
Sometimes, I think we, as pastors, think of ourselves as supermen, carrying on ourselves the struggles and burdens of people even our own family. And, we do that willingly and sometimes intentionally. The problem is that in doing so, we are trying to be Jesus. We were never meant to live life alone, and we definitely were not meant to be superheroes, our own version of demigods. When we act like superheroes, we set ourselves up as false gods which is always a recipe for disaster.
Not only do we need friends to keep us humble, but there are several other reasons why we need friends as well.
1. Outside friends can be great sounding boards.
Sometimes, you need to talk to someone outside of your current ministry, city, and possibly state to run ideas through. This isn’t to say that you aren’t running the same ideas through those in your church, but it’s always good to have other friends that you can voice new ideas and talk through other things with in a safe environment. Many of the ideas I have are crazy or aren’t thought through, and I don’t want to act on an idea that may not be biblical or may not be profitable for what God has called us to be as a church. We all need good friends that provide a safe place for feedback, encouragement, and criticism without demeaning us.
2. You’re off “the clock.”
With outside friends, people don’t see you wearing the hat as “pastor.” Not that you have ceased to be a pastor, but you aren’t currently wearing that hat. Think of a police officer. When people see them with their uniform and in their police car, they drive slower. They obey stop signs and traffic lights. I’m sure police officers enjoy watching football games, watching their sons play soccer games, and enjoy dates with their wives. The cool thing is for me that I am in a church where I can be myself and enjoy things around me, but not all pastors get to have that luxury. Having outside friends allows a pastor to be themselves and do things they enjoy with their friends. They’re not creating sermons 24 hours a days. Pastor, you need friends, so you’re not always “at work.”
3. Outside friends help you through ministry struggles.
In ministry, things pop up that are difficult are tough. Maybe, it’s a pastor helping a grieving family deal with the loss of their child, or a tough time in ministry trying to work through a broken relationship, or financial struggles with their family. For many of these things, a pastor cannot vocalize these situations to his congregation because they know the people in those situations. An outside friend can be someone who is a great listener that can help a pastor through that current situation.
4. Outside friends help you think fresh about the ministry.
I love talking to some of my other pastor friends outside of my church about ministry. We can brainstorm together and also ground each other biblically. It’s very easy getting caught up doing what you’ve always done without thinking why you’ve done it. We need outside friends, in ministry, who can help us think fresh about our ministry situations.