Four Types of Friends a Pastor Needs

Orginally published on Thursday, July 05, 2007 at 7:27 AM
by Todd Rhoades

Ike Reighard has an interesting article posted over at Crosswalk.com on the different types of friends a pastor needs to cultivate.  He writes:  “Most pastors find themselves in an unhealthy relationship where their wife is their only friend and counselor. If a pastor continues to project his problems onto his wife, she will grow disillusioned and desperate to leave the ministry. I believe a pastor’s wife should be his best friend, but she should not be his only friend...”

He continues…

The Developer
Your best friend will always be the person who brings out the very best in you. According to Billy Graham, he wouldn’t have made it as an evangelist if he had to minister alone. Over 53 years ago, Billy Graham met his staff and best friends: Cliff Barrows, George Beverly Shea, and Grady Wilson. These three men protected him, strengthened him, counseled with their wisdom, and corrected him when he needed it. He is convinced that without these friends he would have burned out within a few years after his first groundbreaking crusade in 1949 (Just as I Am: The Autobiography of Billy Graham, pp. 125-129).

Developer friends will bring the gift of encouragement to a pastor’s life and bring out the very best in him.

The Designer
We tend to think of mentors as a personal, hands-on coach. The Latin and Greek define them more as “advisors” or “wise men.” Jesus was a master mentor. He ministered to thousands, trained hundreds, equipped twelve, and had an intimate friendship with three men.

The designer mentors us in our marriage, ministry, child-rearing, civic involvement, business acumen, or any area where we need a model. Designer mentors may live near or far, be acquaintances or strangers, or may even be dead. They “design” our lives through Scripture, books, tapes, articles, or seminars.

The Disturber
We need friends who will shake up our status quo. Disturbers ask us difficult questions, forcing us to take a closer look at motivations and ambitions. Disturbers know when we have retreated into our comfort zones, and they call us out to greater effectiveness. God uses disturbers in our lives to become the object of greater force that breaks inertia and propels us to greater achievement.

A biblical picture of a disturber is in Deuteronomy 32:11. In this passage the mother eagle tears up the soft nest to reveal sharp thorns that bring discomfort to the eaglets. Because of discomfort, the eaglets leave the nest and learn to fly. The mother develops her young by repeatedly pushing them out of the nest and catching them until they become skilled flyers. Eagles were never meant to stay in the nest and neither were we. The disturber pushes us to learn to fly.

The Discerner
In a lifetime of relationships, perhaps only a handful of people are willing to play this vital role because it requires mutual vulnerability. More popularly known as accountability partners, discerners bring the gift of spiritual insight into our lives. They know how to speak the truth in love. They know how to exhort and rebuke, seeking to keep their friend on the right track. They are also vulnerable—the true friends who will walk into the room of your life while everyone else is walking out.

Proverbs 27:6 reads, “The wounds of a friend are trustworthy, but the kisses of an enemy are excessive.” Always be slow in choosing your discerners and even slower in leaving them.

If you are a typical pastor without close friendships, I urge you to seek them out. They may keep you in ministry for the long haul, and your wife will thank you.

You can read the whole article here...

Interaction:  How are you doing in cultivating friends?  Which kind of friend of the four types above have been the hardest for you to find?

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  There are 7 Comments:

  • Posted by

    For the married pastor, a good spouse should fill one or two of those roles.  Ministry is often lonely.  Some pastors, for whatever reason, do not make friends among the congregation [which defeats the concept of co-laborers].  I’m sure Ruth Graham was Billy’s closest friend and most trustworthy advisor.

  • Posted by

    I would agree that all these types of people would be very beneficial for me as a pastor.  My gut feeling, though, is that it must be extremely difficult to have these types of friends within your church.  In my present situation, I truthfully don’t think there are any who would fit the descriptions given.  Some may be close, and perhaps there are some that would be good but I’m not aware of their abilities, since I’ve only been here 2 years.  I could probably find some who would be willing to do all these things in a one-sided relationship, though—them telling me what I should do, without much input from my side!

    It isn’t like I can just walk up to a person and ask him to fill one of these designations.  I’ve gotten to know a few other pastors in the area, but not yet to the point that I see one of these relationships taking off.  What suggestions would anyone have regarding the development of these friends—realizing that they will all take considerable time to happen?

  • Posted by Jay Zetterlund

    This is a great article, addressing an issue pastors often face in ministry...but, so do leaders in any area or endeavor.  One of the prices of leadership is often a sense of isolation from those who are being led, period.  Do we consistently see articles about parents needing friends outside of the relationships they share with their children?  Not often, because we recognize that the parent plays the leadership role in the household.  Our society “gets” that healthy parents often develop friendships outside of their children, without being questioned whether the parents have maintained their devotion to their children.

    In a similar manner, pastors need to recognize that if isolatoin is depleting their joy in ministry, or wives are tired of talking about church, then it is time to seek out friendships among other pastors or other ministry leaders...in town, in your ministry organization, wherever works. 

    Ideally, ministers would all have Billy Graham’s amazing experience...to come to work and see his three best friends.  But Billy Graham was not a pastor, living with and near the sheep!  His ministry role was different.  In a church, my team may potentially be candidates as friends, but at the end of the day, they are also members of my congregation who need me to be their pastor.  It takes incredibly mature people to be able to keep those roles seperated.  And in 24 years of ministry, I have never had it work well....work momentarily, for a season, perhaps, but ultimately, the staff can become are pressured to play the “friend card” to trump the pastor’s responsibility to exert authority to lead the church.  It gets messy and good people get hurt...pastors and staff alike!

  • Posted by

    I am surprised that there were only three comments on this topic! I read the article from a different perspective. When our previous pastor retired, he suggested that my husband and I could be good friends for the new pastor and his wife. We have become friends, and I was looking for input from a pastor’s view of how to be better friends to support them. Jay’s comment concerns me, about the need to keep friend and leader roles straight. That dichotomy is present when students become friends with their teachers as well. From my experience in that realm, friendship is both possible and beneficial.

  • Posted by gifts to india

    Thanks for this article. I am agree with this one discerners bring the gift of spiritual insight into our lives and Developer friends will bring the gift of encouragement to a pastor’s life and bring out the very best in him.

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