June 2, 2011

Question: How Do You Have a Close Friend in the Ministry?

Cue the confetti! We have a winner for our May 2011 Questions Contest! An Amazon e-gift card is virtually winging its way to her as I type. Congratulations! Thanks to everyone who submitted such challenging and thought-provoking questions about ministry life. Starting today, Sunday Women will regularly post these queries for all of you to answer. Share your wisdom. Limber up those wrists and start answering this runner-up question in the Comments section. Thanks.

Question: How do you have a close friend when you are the Pastor's wife? I have struggled with this for 33 years. I really don't have a close friend in the church.


  1. This is one of the top questions for ministry wives – myself included. I am comparatively young compared to the writer of the question, therefore take my comments and weigh them for yourselves if they are useful or not.

    We just know that if we make friends with anyone inside our churches we will someday feel hurt and betrayed by them. The scenario might look something like this: you start out at a church, some ladies seem to take a sincere interest in you and your family. After a year or more they become disinterested in you and your family. Maybe your husband preached on a topic they don’t want to know what the Lord has to say on it. Maybe your husband didn’t do something the way they wanted it done. Maybe you didn’t do something the way they wanted it done. The possibilities are endless, but the outcome is similar. They, for some reason, decide to distance themselves from you and sometimes worse, they turn against you and start gossiping about you and your family. They might even leave the church and say terrible things about you to others. Parishioners seem to rarely try to work out their issues using Matthew 18, they would rather let wounds fester or respond with secret (or public) venom. Sometimes, the sheep morph into wolves. So, should we refuse to be friends with the sheep, because we are concerned that they may turn out to be wolves?

    The Lord Jesus knows what it is like to be in ministry and have friends become uninterested in you (John 6). He even knows what it is like to have a beloved friend turn on you and actually try to harm you (Matthew 26). He warned us that it would happen if we follow Him (John 15). Here’s the weird thing. Christ knew that Judas would betray Him, and what did He do? He permitted Judas into his inner circle anyway. He had a closer circle yet, but he didn’t keep Himself from being friends with those in the church just because one was going to betray Him. There's a lesson here about having different circles of friends, with different levels of entrusting yourself in each one. And, of course, our Lord's example is to have a most-inner-circle of exactly One. John was His closest human companion, but it was John who knowingly wrote that "Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man." Not even John. So, the first and foremost heart-issue here is that there is a level of entrusting yourself that belongs to God alone, not even to your husband, let alone to your most inner circle of a couple best women friends, or out from there. The most important friendship to maintain is that innermost one, so that you are not made vulnerable by giving genuine Christian affection and sharing your life with those in circles 2, 3+.

    I suggest that we follow Christ’s example. Make friends with people in our churches even knowing that they will likely someday hurt us. We go into the friendship hoping for the best, but being wise as a serpent, we live as unto the Lord. We love them, we remain wise in our encounters with them, but we can hold them as dear to us. Naturally, we are closer friends with our family, and oftentimes, there are friends who will remain friends for life – I have a couple from seminary days, some from a former church, and some from a candidating process that fell through who are very near and dear. If we live in Christ’s example, we will find that others who love Him will love us as we strive to emulate Him no matter the cost.

    A fellow sister,


  2. How timely!
    Heather, thank you for your thoughtful response. I am in the throes of this myself with several friendships at the same time :( - so, to the original questioner, I can only add - 'you are not alone!' Truly, this issue is what has made me seek out possible internet friends... although I agree with Heather that the Lord comes first and I have been certainly pouring out my heart before Him.
    What I have found odd(in a good way) is that I still have a great love for each of these ladies- when I see them, my heart overflows with love for them, truly. - Only God can do that- it obviously has nothing to do with me.
    So, my struggle is not in my feelings toward them- it is in keeping silent. I continually seem to be asking the Lord and my husband, 'should I say anything to her? should I respond? '
    So far, they have both said no, be silent.
    So I say- My soul, wait silently for God alone. For my expectation is from Him (ps 62)

    I hope I do not hold back in friendship because of all this... I hadn't really thought about that. Sorry, I feel like I'm rambling on here... many thoughts about it! But, thank you again for insight into this important topic.

  3. How would you characterize the problem? Is it that you can't find any "kindred spirits," who have your same interests and outlook? Do you have relationships outside your local church but not one within it? Are you questioning how to start and nourish a friendship? Have you gotten friends you feel comfortable with only to have them move to another state?

    Sorry if this comment contains too many questions.


Join the conversation!
All comments become the property of Sunday Women.

COMMENTING HINTS: If you are baffled by the "Comment As_____" choices, you can simply select "Anonymous" and include your name in the comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...