Every pastor I know needs a best friend. Don’t we all?
Most likely the pastor has a best friend in a spouse. I hope so. I encourage it. My wife is that for me. My boys are also.
But I think there’s more. And more these days than ever.
And, if “best” is too strong a word, pick your own word. Good. Close. Trusted. Every pastor needs a friend who knows them well and can encourage and challenge like no one else can.
Yet, in working with pastors as I do regularly, I would say more pastors live paranoid of who they can trust than have someone they would consider a close confidant. Some pastors believe not having one simply comes with the job. I’ve heard pastors say we can’t expect to have those type relationships with people – that we are somehow, for some reason, “above that”.
That’s dangerous talk. And many pastors have failed buying that lie — or never inviting people into a closer circle of friendship.
I equally know some people who want to be that type friend to the pastor. And the pastor has either been hard to get to know or the person doesn’t know how to relate to them. I appreciate those who have a sincere desire to befriend the pastor – which is the purpose of this post.
I can’t speak for all pastors – but I can speak for me and, I believe, I can speak for many pastors due to my years of coaching and ministering among them. I’ve learned you can have “best” friends in the church, but even if necessary because of the size church, outside the church where one pastors.
If you want to be this kind of friend to a pastor, I need to warn you the pastor may be skeptical at first. Every pastor has been burned a time or two. If your heart, however, is to be a friend – even a best friend – to your pastor here are some suggestions which have worked to endear my friends to me.
Here are 7 ways to be a pastor’s “best” friend:
Let the pastor be true to self. Warts and all – don’t expect more from the pastor than you would anyone else. There is likely a church holding the pastor to a higher standard. And they should. But, as a “best friend”, you know everyone is still a “work in progress” – just like you. Allow your pastor to be human. And their family too!
Don’t make the pastor be the pastor in every situation. Let the pastor be “off” occasionally. Don’t talk “church” all the time. If you’re best friend is a waitress you don’t talk food or customer service all the time, do you? A doctor’s best friend hopefully isn’t always looking for free medical advice. Talk sports. Or politics (that’s hard for most pastors to find a place to do). Or about your family. Talk about life.
(Also – side note, the pastor shouldn’t always have to be the one to pray just because they are in the room. Shoulder some of his burden when you are with them.)
Never talk about the pastor behind their back. Let them know you will always protect them and have their best intentions in mind. Above all have integrity in the relationship – which should be true in every friendship.
Never repeat anything the pastor tells you in private without permission. Never. Ever. Ever. This may be the most important one. It’s amazing how people will repeat what you say if they think you are claiming to be a close friend. As soon as you do, it will be very difficult to trust you again. And isn’t part of being a best friend the confidences you two keep between you?
Love the pastor even when they make mistakes. You’d want that from your best friends wouldn’t you? Why not give pastors one friend they know they can always count on to be in his corner? And that should be even on those days where their emotional state or mindset make them seem not very pastoral – and maybe not even like a best friend.
Support the pastor publicly. You won’t be much of a friend if you don’t challenge them when needed, but it should always be done in private. When in a crowd be on the pastor’s side until you’ve had a chance to talk to the pastor in person – and alone.
Don’t hold the pastor to unreasonable expectations. I’ve seen people who want to be a pastor’s friend get upset when the pastor didn’t tell them everything going on in the church. They get their feelings hurt. Every pastor walks on a certain amount of “eggshells” wondering who will respond and how to things the pastor does. We should never place this burden on a “best” friend. Have no hidden agenda to the relationship – no attempt to gain information or status – just friendship.
Those are a few suggestions, but even with these, don’t be disappointed if the pastor doesn’t respond as you would want them to. Again, best friends don’t. Plus, maybe – hopefully – your pastor has a best friend or two already. All pastors need them.
As I close, I’m thinking these are good suggestions in all friendships – pastor or not. And we all need a best friend.
Pastors, any suggestions you would add?