Friend vs. Friendly
"Well, my dear, if you are going to be in ministry you will need to learn to be friendly with everybody and friends with nobody"
On Friday night our daughter celebrated her engagement. Beside me were some particular friends with whom I have shared decades of friendship. In the past few years our friendship has seen the three of us through some of the best and nastiest life events that we humans experience. From the sharing of the mundane to the life-crests, we friends will speak truth, listen well or just hang. We will pray in earnest for each other and challenge each other to be brave in whatever God has in front of us at that time. There is no pretence and there is much laughter.
I was 23 years old, in my first season as a minister in a cross cultural setting when I heard the advice quoted at the start of this column. We were planning to return to Australia with the sense that we would be pastoring and this was the advice of a pastor’s wife who had spent decades in local church work.
Ten years later a minister was praying for me at one of those conventions where ministers can go to be ministered to. They prayed that God would give me good friends. I thought it was a bit odd, considering we spent our lives surrounded by people. I am glad that God answered their prayer anyway.
We need the soul-nourishing of being a good friend and of having good friends, giving and receiving love, care, help, sacrifice and easy company that has NOTHING to do with our role. It sounds easier than it is.
A major challenge for extroverted ministers is that we can have company on request most of the time. If we feel a bit lonely, we can often call someone and have any thirst for companionship assuaged. But company is not deep friendship.
For the introverts among us, we can be so ‘peopled out’ that we don’t want any more company. But our own company is not enough. A couple of good friends will nourish our souls. Personally, I’m half way introvert/extrovert, so I can err on both sides.
So, can you name your good friends? Would they love you if you had no ministry or leadership? Would you love them if they were of no ‘missional use’ to you? Are you a good friend?
© 2013 All Rights Reserved