As a pastor’s wife of 25 years, I was told several times that my best friends cannot be in the church where my spouse is pastoring, but I believe my church family is part of God’s family and if they cannot be part of my inner circle of friends, then what does that say to the church? Also, what am I saying to the unchurched? Most of my lifelong friends have come from our congregations and sharing my life with them is what God intended friendship to be? I don’t need a safe place to gossip or complain about my church. I need friends who can help me solve problems and make our church better. Being transparent as a leader is imperative.
If I refuse to develop intimate friendships within the church, then I am eliminating many influential relationships with other people. I am also withholding my friendship from people who may desperately need a good friend. Making and maintaining close friendships is difficult, but it is worth the effort. Through these years of ministry, I have come to discover that many of us struggle with establishing, developing, and keeping deep lasting friends.
I have read over 20 articles about friendship and the theme of most of them is what NOT to do in a friendship. Well, I want to share with you five principles that we SHOULD be doing to create the types of friendships we all long for.
One: This first one seems obvious but I am talking about the power of God’s love in us. We need to understand God’s love for us before we can truly love others. We are to love as Christ loves. Experiencing the overwhelming joy that comes from knowing that God loves me not because of what I do, or who I am…He just loves ME. That gives us a confidence to share that love with others. Without that security we tend to depend on our friends to make us feel loved instead of having a vessel full of love to overflow to them.
Two: In our busy world, we need to understand the commitments that others have and give them the flexibility to meet the needs of their families, jobs, and church while finding ways to stay connected and build the friendship.
Three: Finding time for others must be intentional. Friends who say, “we need to get together,” but do not mark the date on their calendars will most likely not get together. We must set time aside for our friends. We also need to be intentional about what we share when we are together. Ask intentional questions to dig deeper in the relationship. Don’t just talk about superficial things if you want to make a lasting connection.
Four: Don’t let one failed meeting; the one “I can’t make it today” or distance keep you from being friends. Be persistent and find out what works. I have friends that I see quite often and friends that are far away. Being persistent in making the connections happen is key to keeping those relationships alive and healthy.
Five: We all make mistakes, are forgetful at times, or misunderstand each other. Be willing to work through the hard stuff to keep a friend around. I have seen several deep friendships split up over minor problems that escalate and tear people apart. Remember that Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy and that goes for godly friendships. He doesn’t want us to have friends that challenge us in our walk with Christ.
Finding and keeping a true friend will require implementing each of these principles, but I would add one more: prayer. In each one of our moves I have prayed for God to bring someone into my life who would like to build a lasting friendship. The desire for connection should go both ways, so don’t be afraid to ask God to lead you to someone who wants the same thing.
Beverly and her husband have been married twenty-eight years and have served in ministry twenty-six of those. They have four amazing children, three awesome daughters-in-laws, and two outstanding grandsons. Beverly has a B.S. in Secondary Mathematics Education from Oklahoma Wesleyan University and is currently a certified teacher in Michigan. She has held many jobs over her years as a pastor’s wife, and God has used them all to shape who she is today. She has been a teacher, a store clerk, an office manager, a librarian, a stay-at-home and homeschooling mom, a business owner, and now adds writer/speaker to this list. (You can check out her book “Flourish: Enjoying Life as the Pastor’s Wife” on Amazon.) She loves camping, playing Pokémon Go, singing, scrapbooking, reading, and loving on her family. She feels very blessed by God and hopes to continue in His mission for the rest of her life. If you enjoy this post, you can see more at beverlykimball.com.