I came across this blog post which has a quote from H.B. London who is head of pastoral ministries for Focus on the Family that said, "at least 70 percent of pastors in the United States claim they have no friends."
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Pastor Pete Wilson makes some very good points in his post. Pastors along with everyone else were created to be in community. It is 'heartbreaking' as Wilson says, to hear the alarming statistic given by London, because being in community, having solid, good friends is such a true need.
Jesus no doubt had some good friends, his disciples of course. Yet he also seemed to have an inner core James, John, and Peter. Along those lines he also seemed to like to spend time at the house of Lazarus. The next most famous person in the entire New Testament Paul also seemed to have some close friends read chapter 16 of Romans!
The need for us to have friends is without question. The question is should pastors have/make strong friendships with people from his/her church? What if the church is a small church? Is it easier or more acceptable in a larger church?
As a leader/pastor it can be a difficult line to walk. Wilson points out correctly that often pastors will hear never, never make close friends, specifically it's been said, close friends with people of your congregation because they can use things you say against you. Though there's truth to that, Wilson goes on to say, "If a normal person has friends we call it healthy. If a pastor has close friends we call it a "clique."
Again the question is not if a pastor should have friends over all but if he/she should have close friends from within their congregation(s).
In making close friends there is always a risk, just like falling in love. We risk getting hurt. God made us, knowing that we could, not want to be 'friends' with Him. Though that's hard to fully understand to some point, there is a valuable principle. Making friends, close friends at that, there is always that risk of getting hurt. I believe pastors need to take that risk as they feel led in prayer and congregations should not critique the pastor for it without merit.
If congregations want pastors to stay a long time in their church than they need to understand that he/she will need to make friends. The pastor should never play favorites and the friends must also understand the role of his/her friend as pastor.
So what do you think? If you're a pastor/leader do you have close friends within your congregation/organization? As a member of whatever church you may go to, do you know if your pastor has any close friends among the congregation? Are you ok with it?