I was told, early in ministry, some of the most terrible advice: “Don’t get too close to people. You can never trust them.” I now give leaders the exact opposite advice. Fall into the depth of meaningful friendships. Will you get hurt? Yes. Such is life, but it’s worth it. From personal experience I can say, it’s worth it.

I’m thankful for the words Shawn Lovejoy wrote about this on Ed Stetzer’s Exchange blog…

The #1 mistake I see pastors make is living in isolation. We don’t mean to, but we just get busy, overcommitted, overextended, exhausted, and sometimes even numb. After a long week of ministry, many of us just want to go home and binge on Netflix or self-medicate in some other way.

What’s missing in the lives of many megachurch pastors I know is genuine friendship, camaraderie, koinonia, and intimacy. We are missing relationships that are FOR us and WITH us, not just BEHIND us or UNDER us.

Jesus is our greatest example. Why did He pick the 12 apostles? Mark 3:14 tells us: “And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach…”

Even Jesus knew He needed people with Him and for Him. What do pastors really need? If there was one value I would list above all others it’s this: friends. Not acquaintances, but really great friends that we respect and admire and who understand us. We need friends who are dealing with what we’re dealing with and understand the pressure. We need friends who have walked where we will walk and have the scars to prove it, friends who will challenge us and hold us accountable. There is great pressure in the pastorate, but it doesn’t have to break us.

Ecclesiastes 4:12b says, “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Pastors, let us not break. Let us not give up. Let us finish well and finish together. Let us stick together and do life together. Let us run the race in such a way that we don’t disqualify ourselves and pray for revival together. Let us see God pour out His Spirit in our lives and in our churches.

Be a friend today. Send a text right now. Set up a coffee for next week. And feel free to invest time and emotional energy into friendships. 

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