Our guest blogger today is Dr. Brian Autry, a long-time friend who serves as the Executive Director of the SBC of Virginia. A former church planter and pastor, he is one of the best pastoral and denominational leaders I know. That’s why I want you to hear from him.
In 2015, Chuck Lawless wrote an article called “Five Reason Some Pastors Are Loners – and Why That’s Not Good.” For the past seven years I’ve had the privilege of seeking to strengthen the ministry of pastors, and I count myself among their number. I believe loneliness and friendlessness are a threat to our wellness and to finishing well. So, I’d like to offer ten suggestions for making friends as a pastor:
- Be open to being a friend even though you’re a pastor. Some of us have been taught to avoid making friends or we’ve been burned by church friendships, but don’t let that stop you.
- Don’t let people’s awkwardness towards you make you awkward. People have all kinds of reactions when we answer the “what do you do for a living question,” but answer the question and then focus on them.
- Let your wife and kids help you meet others. My wife is an extrovert who enjoys meeting people, and I’m also at a lot of my kids’ activities – so the other husbands and dads are potential friends.
- Build friendships out of ministry relationships. Folks you serve with can also become your friends; after all, you have something significant in common.
- Participate in opportunities to network and fellowship with other pastors. Get to know other pastors in your area by joining in local gatherings – show up if you want to develop friendships.
- Allow others to be the center of attention or in charge. Let’s admit it. We’re used to having people listen to us speak for extended amounts of time and are typically a focal point in the gatherings we attend; so, we have to make an effort to listen and share the stage when making a friend.
- Seek mentors and mentor others. A friendship can develop when we’re investing in personal discipleship or leadership development.
- View people as more than prospects. A confession: when I told my wife this particular suggestion, she asked me if I had actually ever done this! I need to value people as people, just like God does, whether or not they come to my church (or might come).
- Practice what you preach. We challenge people all the time to be involved in fellowship and know the Bible teaches the value of godly friendship. We need to set an example.
- Take the initiative. This final suggestion is meant to acknowledge what we all know and started to learn the first day of kindergarten: we can start friendships with, “Hi, my name is…what’s your name?”
What other suggestions do you have when it comes to making friends as a pastor?