In this third blog in the series of the Four “R’s” of Ministerial Self-Care, we talk about the ever important need for relationships…
What kind of relationships are you sustaining? Do you have relationships that are beneficial to you and help carry your burdens? How are you caring for your marriage or singleness? Are your relationships safe?
Proverbs 17:17 (NLT) – “A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.”
Ministry can be extremely lonely at times. There are some things only the lead can understand and carry and very few people, if any, in the local congregation you can share your struggles with. There are also few, if any, that you can take your “pastor hat” with and just be your unfiltered self.
We need friends. We all need friends. We are supposed to live life in relationships. We need people we can cut lose with, have fun with, vent to, break down with, and be vulnerable to. The Holy Trinity is the greatest example of relationship in the universe. Three personalities all fulfilling unique functions and roles and all in supportive harmony with each other. God made us this way as a reflection of himself and expects us to depend on each other. We get in trouble when we close ourselves off to others and stop sharing our lives. We also get into trouble when we are only surrounded by toxic people who take from us instead of giving.
Aristotle said, “In poverty and other misfortunes of life, true friends are a sure refuge. They keep the young out of mischief; they comfort and aid the old in their weakness, and they incite those in the prime of life to noble deeds.” Friendships are vital for wellbeing, but they take time to develop and can’t be artificially created.
Some of the best people for us to be in close friendship with often times is other ministers. This only happens however when we prioritize cooperation over competition, when we ask questions of each other like, “How is Ryan REALLY doing? What can I do for Ryan?” instead of “How many did you have a church on Sunday, Ryan?” The first questions allow me to share deeply and be vulnerable, choosing to trust you and allow you to help me. They force me to be honest and break my pride. The question about how many people I had on church Sunday invites me to lie. It places my worth on numbers that are often out of my control. It stokes my pride and can make me defensive.
We also need non-ministry friends. People who know nothing about Pro-Presenter or exegesis. People who care nothing about board meetings and offering counting procedures or nursery ratios or Andy Stanley’s newest book or blood moons or whatever! These friends know the movies we love and the sports teams we cheer for. They are the ones who don’t ask anything of you in return, who don’t see you as clergy. You would be amazed at how refreshing it is to have people in your life who don’t worry about offending you, that don’t pull punches in their conversations with you, and who only care about your church size because you do. We must have people in our lives who loves us for the us we were before we became professionals.
Final thought on friendship. If you are single, you need to see your singleness as a gift, and cultivate your singleness. Develop a good life now. Don’t wait to get married to buy good furniture or take trips. Invest in friends now. Cultivate relationships deeply with members of both genders. If you are married, the most important friend you have is your spouse. Don’t stop growing that friendship. Circumstances that come with ministry may try to kill that friendship and you can’t let that happen. But married people, you also need other friends. You can’t depend on your spouse for everything. As amazing as they are, they aren’t perfect. They don’t have every gift. So you need friends who you can share life with as well that aren’t your spouse. And even when you are married that includes members of the opposite sex.
Open your life to friends.