Friends, Colleagues, and Ministry

A few years ago at a national pastors gathering the speaker told us that pastors often do a poor job of having and maintaining friendships. We are so busy with church activities and our church family that we often don’t take time to make close friendships, particularly with colleagues.

My experience is that you have to purposefully choose to make friends not only with the church staff you work with but also with other clergy in your community. My wife and I have tried in every community we’ve been in to make friends in the church we serve but also to have friends outside our congregations and, when possible, with other clergy in churches around us. Sometimes it has been easy to do so, other times we have found that other pastors feel too busy to take the time. We’ve been having a lot of fun starting to build friendships with our colleagues at First United Methodist!

I had the opportunity today to spend some time with some of my and my wife’s longest friendships in the ministry. We got a visit today friend the very first pastor I worked for as a seminary student and his wife. I only served at that church for three years. But the four of us have been friends now for over twenty years. And while we are now serving in very different areas, in churches of different denominations and backgrounds, we’ve enjoyed our friendship.

It is so important to have friends and colleagues in ministry as well as friendships among lay people. It helps pastors keep a balance. It helps blow off steam and stress. It allows pastors to have others who can share in their joys and concerns. And, it makes for a more well rounded person.

I would encourage my colleagues in ministry to make sure that you make time for friendships, and in particular some friendships that you hope will last. After all, we are part of the body of Christ. We have to take care of ourselves to be able to give the best service to others as Ministers of Word, Sacrament, Order and Service.