Jared, Jeff, and I have been friends for years, more years than I care to keep track (because math is involved, and I hate math). I regularly thank God for their friendship. Our friendship started out of a need to find like minded people serving in similar ministry positions. It's grown into something deeper. I've come to depend on these guys to give me unbiased interpretation of events to which I'm too close. I am seemingly incapable of coming to those interpretations on my own. It's not an exaggeration for me to say that I wouldn't be in the position I'm in without them. My prayer is that I've been as encouraging to them as they've been to me.
I believe all of us need relationships like this. Here are the biggest reasons:
- We need to be corrected. Like I've already mentioned, I don't always see my situation clearly because I'm too close. I need an outside perspective. My friends have a tendency to talk me off the worst case scenario ledge. Without their correction, I'm liable and likely to do or say something that is not helpful. Another perspective helps. As Hebrews 3:13 says, "Exhort one another every day, as long as it is called 'today,' that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin."
- We need to be encouraged. Being a pastor is hard work. It is simultaneously hard and yet glorious. Sometimes, without friends, my focus is on the difficulty and not the glory. I need the guys to remind me where my hope is. 1 Thessalonians 4:18 and 5:11 remind us that our ultimate hope is found and experienced when Christ returns. I need this reminder often.
- Friends demonstrate the love of Jesus. The words of Jesus in John 15:12 say, "“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you." My friends show me Jesus's love. I know I can pick the phone and call or text them and they will sacrifice their time and point me to Jesus. They remind me that both power and joy are found as I abide in Him, and quit relying on my own power and wisdom.
If you don't have relationships like this, reach out to others of similar conviction. Find people in your tribe that will walk with you. As they are there for you, you can be there for them. Be a friend.