Ministry is lonely and friends are needed. However, many pastors struggle to build close friendships. A 9Marks article by Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile claims that 70% of pastors do not have someone they consider a close friend. This is both a tragic and startling statistic.
Matthew Spandler-Davison, a Kentucky Baptist pastor in Bardstown, recently wrote an outstanding article about one way a local Baptist association has added value to its pastors. He writes there is a potential connection between the strong associational fellowship of pastors and the long tenure of many of its pastor. You can read his article by clicking here.
What I appreciated most about Pastor Matthew’s piece was the way the relationships of the pastors in Nelson Baptist Association have served to strengthen these leaders.
How can leaders find and develop a band of ministry brothers like Pastor Matthew described, or at least one close friend?
1. Check out existing groups: Reach out to the Associational Missions Strategist at the local Baptist Association in your area to set up a visit to ask about groups that currently meet. It may be that the fellowship you need is already present. You may discover a group that welcomes you and find in time you connect with one or more of its members.
2. Consider a virtual option: Today there are numerous networking cohorts that gather through Teams and Zoom meetings. Join one of these and see if there are others on the call with whom you resonate. Set up a meeting after the Zoom call to see if a friendship can begin.
3. Be for others what you wish others were for you: One of the pivotable moments in my own fellowship experience came when I stopped relying on others to provide what I needed and started doing for others what I wished others would do for me. Proverbs 18:24 instructs us that if we want to have friends, we must be friendly. Many of us are waiting for others to reach out to us when we can instead be an encouragement to others.
4. Pray and ask God to give you friends: Jesus is a friend to sinners. He also said to His disciples that he called them friends (John 15:15). Since God views His people as friends, it makes sense that He wants us to have friends. Pray asking God to give you a close friend. It is best for men to have close friendships with other men and women to have close friendships with other women. After you pray, then watch over the next weeks and months who God brings across your path.
5. Look into your current list of “friendlies” who may become friends: It may be that the Lord has already given you a good friend in whom you need to make an investment of time and energy. Friendship goes both ways. If the Lord has given you someone who will talk as well as listen, and with whom you find yourself being refreshed, then thank the Lord for bringing friends into your life.
Friends make life better. They also make the journey of ministry easier and more enjoyable. It doesn’t take many, but one or two life-giving relationships can be transformative. Let’s pray and be intentional as we seek godly friendships. After all, we’re in this together.