Pastor, Who Are Your Real Friends?

3. Know the difference between mentor, mentee and friend.

Some relationships are peer-to-peer. This is usually someone who is in the same life stage as you, who is in a similar position of leadership, and who shares some of your interests and needs. The purpose of these relationships, scripture says, is for iron to sharpen iron (Proverbs 27:17). In these relationships, you share mutually, teach mutually and advise mutually.

Other relationships are mentor/mentee relationships. These are teaching relationships, where one person (the mentor) is in a position the other (the mentee) desires to be in someday. The purpose of this relationship is for teaching and learning. One listens, asks questions, pays attention and solicits wisdom. The other teaches, admonishes, advises (but rarely, if ever, confesses or asks for wisdom in return).

The difference here is important because our hearts are our richest possession, and we must be very careful to whom we entrust it.

4. Look outside of the church.

Sometimes I think we get stuck within the four walls of our church, so to speak, and we forget we can be friends with other people. But it is possible (and even beneficial) to have friends who are in other professions entirely, or who are pastoring or leading in another community. I have great friends within my church community, and wonderful friends whom I’ve met elsewhere.

Don’t limit yourself. Seek safe, healthy people wherever you are (see #1) and walk with them together toward Jesus.

5. Don’t be afraid of counseling.

For certain situations—like a difficult season of life, or a recurring sin—seeking counseling can be a more healthy solution than burdening your friends or team with a problem they may or may not know how to solve. I’m not suggesting you keep these struggles from your friends completely, or that your staff stays in the dark.

But counseling (with the right counselor) can be an extremely effective and helpful resource that will actually strengthen your friendships. Don’t be afraid to embrace the benefits of it.  

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Justin Lathrop
With over a dozen years of local church ministry Justin has spent the last several years starting business' and ministries that partner with pastors and churches to advance the Kingdom. He is the founder of Helpstaff.me (now Vanderbloemen Search), Oaks School of Leadership, and MinistryCoach.tv all while staying involved in the local church. Justin is obsessed with connecting people to people and lives his life daily to make the world a smaller place. He now serves as a consultant in the area of strategic relations predominately working with the Assemblies of God, helping to build bridges with people and ministries to more effectively reach more people. He blogs regularly about what he has learned from making connection at www.justinlathrop.com.