Four Blessings of Close Friendships in Pastoral Ministry

Solitary confinement is said to be one of the worst forms of punishment. Often referred to as “the hole” in prisons, solitary confinement deprives prisoners of communication and conversation, making it a form of torture. Being alone, with no one to share life with, is a horrific way to live. In fact, prolonged time in “the hole” has detrimental mental and physical effects on prisoners.

Pastoral ministry can be a lonely place. But it doesn’t have to be. Years ago it was common for seminary professors to caution aspiring pastors about having close friendships. The thinking was that the closer a pastor is to others, the more vulnerable he is to being hurt and betrayed. This warning contributed to a mentality that deprived pastors and their wives of the blessing of close friendships—both inside the church and among ministry peers. Scripture is replete with warnings of how dangerous it is to live as a loner. Every text about Christian growth in the New Testament says Christlikeness is to be lived out within relationships. This context includes those who have been entrusted as undershepherds to lead the church.

Two specific lists in Romans 16:3–16 and Colossians 4:7–18 seem to indicate that Paul served in ministry within the framework of close relationships. Jesus also served closely alongside others whom He called “friends” (John 15:15). Ministry longevity is interwoven with close and meaningful friendships within ministry.

Let’s consider four key benefits of close pastoral friendships.

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Can Married Men and Women Be Friends? Marriage, Friendship, and Loneliness

"Men appear to have suffered disproportionately in the collapse of friendships. In 1990, a majority (55%) of men had at least six close friends. Today, only 27% report having this number of close friendships. Single men are in even worse shape..." - IFS

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“The failures of Job’s friends should serve as a warning to Christians.”

"There is a kind of ministry that is without words, and sometimes the best way to help others is to simply share with them in their pain. As the preacher of Ecclesiastes said, there is 'a time to speak and a time to keep silent'" (Eccl. 3:7). - Jake Bier

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Choosing Friends that Spark Your Fire for God

By M.R. Conrad. Reposted from Rooted Thinking.

How do you choose your friends? Your mom likely helped you choose your first friends. She probably told the mothers of your classmates, “I want my kids to have good friends so they stay out of trouble.” University professors exhort their students to network to gain connections to move up in their fields. “It’s not what you know but who you know,” the experts often repeat. But left on your own, how do you go about choosing friends? What common interests draw you to other people? What are you looking for in a friendship?

Timeless Truths for Choosing Friends

At age 25, Henry Martyn boarded a ship for India.1 You might call him the “Father of Tentmaking Missions.” Nobody calls him that, but that’s what he did in 1806 long before tentmaking trended in missiological circles. He took a job as an Anglican chaplain for the East India Company so he could take the gospel to countries in Asia and the Middle East that did not welcome missionaries. Arriving in Calcutta, Martyn traveled north to Serampore to befriend William Carey and his team of Baptists.

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