One of my favorite pastors, Craig Groeschel, did a couple of blog posts this week on becoming friends with your pastor. I liked some of his points, others I didn’t, so I thought I’d adapt it, add some of my own and hopefully by the end you’ll have a better idea of how we can become friends:
- Not everyone can be best friends with the pastor…just like you my time is limited…I can’t have 600 best friends. However, that doens’t mean I don’t want to get to know you better. If that leads into a deeper friendship great, if not great again…there’s a lot of other people out there that make a much better friend than me anyway…just ask my friends…they’ll confirm that for you. 🙂
- Don’t be pushy. That comes across as needy and needy people are what we have to deal with on an almost daily basis.
- Be real. Too many times people put on a mask around the pastor trying to be someone they’re not. As Craig put it, “We’d rather see the dark side of you than a fake spiritual side.” I try from the stage each week to give you a glimpse into the real Gilbert, in return let me see the real you and together we can grow to become more like Christ.
- Allow me to be me. So many people put unrealistic expectations on the pastor forgetting that he’s human just like they are. I will make mistakes…I will mess up…I will hurt you at some point…not intentionally, not because I don’t love Jesus, not because I’m out to ruin your life, but because I’m just as human as you are. Please extend to me the same grace that I will in turn extend to you. My 5 best friends on this planet all allow me to be Gilbert, not Pastor Gilbert. It’s great to know that some people love me warts and all and will be with and for me no matter what.
- Speaking of unrealistic expectations…I can’t say yes to everything. I’m learning this the hard way…the bigger we become and the more influential I become, the more the invitations roll in for all kinds of opportunities for dinners, parties, speaking engagements, etc. The problem is if I say yes to everything, then that means I’m saying no to something else…unfortunately that may mean time with Lisa or spending time in the areas that I’m truly gifted. So if I say no to your request to come to your Great Aunt Ruth’s, 40th anniversary of the the time she was employee of the month at the local bank, it doens’t mean I don’t like you…it just means I don’t have time for everything and I hope you’ll understand.
- Like you I have a life outside the church, so it’s Ok to talk with me about just normal stuff like, sports and hobbies and TV shows, etc.
- Less than 10% of people who are ever in full-time ministry as a pastor will retire from the ministry. Not trying to make pastoring sound like the most dangerous job in the world but in some ways it is. The stress levels are extremely high when you consider that we are like the generals leading the troops out into war against the devil and all of the negatives that he brings into this world. Add on top of that the long, unpredictable hours, the many times unrealistic expectations that church members have of the pastor and church and you’ve got a recipe for burn-out. So with all that being said the greatest way to be my friend is to let me know that you pray for me. I’m not just talking an “Oh yeah God and bless Gilbert also” type of prayer…I mean seriously praying that God would lead, guide and protect me as a follower of Christ first, as a husband second and then as a pastor of His church.
- One last thing…my love and friendship can be bought. 🙂 Seriously you don’t know how much it means to get cards, letter’s, e-mails, gift cards, etc. letting me know that you’re life has changed in a small or big way because of my influence, example or teaching. Again ministry can be hard and sometimes I think “Is it all worth it?” Then I get a reminder from someone that yes indeed my time and sacrifice are not in vain and that helps carry me on sometimes for weeks or months at a time.
To those that are already close friends…thank you…I love you all.
To everyone else, I look forward to on varying degrees getting to know you better in the coming months and years!