Although being a pastor is a high calling, a privilege, and an honor to serve those that you shepherd, it is easy to feel like you’re all alone. It’s difficult for a pastor to be transparent with their struggles and shortfalls and often relationships that pastors do have can easily turn from friendships to counseling situations. Pastors can feel like they live in a glass house and that they have to work hard to have privacy and appropriate boundaries around their lives.
But, I believe it’s vitally important for pastors to have 3 very distinct types of relationships in order for them to have longevity in the ministry and vitality in life.
1. Accountability Partner – This is the person that holds you accountable to purity, spending time with family, Bible study, etc. They are someone that’s able to ask you the tough questions and they’re a person that you can be completely honest and transparent with. Most often these relationships are reciprocal in that you are holding them accountable as well.
With the staggering number of moral failures and pastors failing their families, this relationship is important so that you can be the person that God wants you to be. This relationship is about you and about being the best you that you can be.
Do you have an accountability partner? Are you holding anyone accountable? If you’re not in this kind of relationship, who can you ask this week to be your accountability partner? Be prepared to be completely vulnerable with this person and choose them wisely.
2. Mentor – This is the person that’s just ahead of you in life and/or career. Maybe they pastor a church larger than yours. Maybe they’ve been a pastor longer than you. Maybe they aren’t a pastor at all, but they’re someone who has done life well and they have something they can offer you to help you go farther.
Mentor relationships should be somewhat structured. There should be a clear understanding of what you hope to gain from the relationship. It may be that this is a relationship that goes on without end…or it may be one that lasts only a few months or a few years.
This relationship is all about helping you serve and work better. The idea is that you’ll walk away with some practical principles and ideas that you can use in the way you work and interact with others.
Do you have a mentor? If not, one of the best ways to get one is to JUST ASK. Often we have hopes that someone will approach us and offer to be our mentor…but that just doesn’t happen that regularly. So, if you don’t have a mentor, who can you ask this week to be your mentor? And, if they say no, who is your 2nd and 3rd person to ask? And, who are you mentoring? I’m sure someone would be blessed by you mentoring them…in a formal sense.
3. Friend – This is the person that you can just be yourself with. You’re not their pastor and there’s no counseling going on (although there may be infrequent need of this from time to time). You spend time together laughing and doing life. You just hang out.
A friend shares common interests and is often in a similar stage of life as it relates to family and career. Friends are those that your entire family can be with and it allows you to have fun, let loose, and not feel like you have to have your ‘pastoral’ hat on.
Do you have at least one friend? If not, who could it be? Friends are far more regularly discovered rather than found. My best friend was put in my life because I prayed for a good friend. So, let God help you with the search (for all 3 of these relationships)!
In closing, I would say that it’s possible that only one or two people could fill all 3 of these roles. I would recommend making it 3 different people, however. That just increases the possibility that at the end of the day, you’ll have 3 friends!
Are there other relationships missing from this list? Does this seem like a reasonable list? Post your comments below…