Tonight I (Jeff) talked to my friend. It’s been over twenty years since we’ve talked. Maybe twenty-five. Either way, it’s been so long we don’t even remember. Within sixty seconds we picked it right back up, laughing, joking, using the insider language that was a part of our dorm communication. We remembered the olive parties. It was priceless.
My good friend is planning a pastor’s retreat. It will be an intimate gathering of pastors, only about twenty of us. It will be intense, concentrated into three days. It will be spiritual, honest, and fun. Some of us will know others; we will likely all make new friends. Most of us are pastors. Most of us are 200church pastors. A couple of us are lay leaders in our church.
Me and my friend had a great conversation. He is pastoring a church of 75 people. It is the church his family grew up in. It has changed hundreds of lives over the years, maybe thousands. He and his brother are both pastors today. We talked about the challenge of pastoring a 200church. We also talked about the importance of having smaller churches in communities and neighborhoods, churches that people can connect with easily and personally. Our churches are needed!
Thinking about this pastor’s retreat made me think about the importance of community as pastors, community with other pastors who can both know us and understand us. It takes one to know one, right?
I wondered tonight after we talked – “How many of our 200churches friends have other pastors in their lives that they can confide in, talk to, get help from, or just spend meaningful time with?”
I think about the women pastors who listen to the podcast or read the blog. I wonder – “Is it harder for female pastors to find other pastors to confide in, talk to, or get help from, since most pastors are men?” I know way too little about the struggles of women pastors. I plead ignorance! Have mercy on me ladies.
The truth is, I have not gotten together with a group of pastors quite like this in about seven years. It’s been too long. We need the connections we can make with other pastors who can be our friends. We need the challenge, the confidentiality, and the chance to be ourselves around other pastors who want to be themselves.
If you’ve listened to our podcast from this week, Episode 61, you know that I have Steve here in my church. I can be me around Steve. The truth is, I can be me around a lot of people in my church, on my board, and in my small group. We are intentionally trying to build a church characterized by this statement: Authentic Relationships With God & Others 24/7.
But I’m aware that not all of you have those kinds of relationships. If my church people read this post, they might think “Why doesn’t Jeff feel like he can just be himself around us?!” Well, I do. Mostly. But you pastors know what I mean. We need to spend some time, at some point, with our own. With other pastors. You and I know this: We are strange life forms! Normal humanoid carbon units are not always able to understand us. :)
How about you? Where can you go to find fellowship, help, authentic community, a listening ear, or wise counsel? Not many of us are blessed to have these relationships already baked into our lives. We have to be intentional and deliberate about finding them.
If you need help, encouragement, or counsel – look around. Who is there in your region that you could approach? Perhaps another pastor in your community needs that friendship and support even more than you do but you just don’t know it. Maybe he or she doesn’t know it either. Take a chance. Step into a risk. Make a call or visit. Be real, talk honestly, reach out.
God wants you to be supported and encouraged. He is community, right, so he wants us to be in community both with our Triune God and with each other as shepherds and elders.
Have you done this? Where do you find your support? Leave a comment on this post below and tell us how you find help, support, fellowship, and encouragement. Talk to us, and let’s talk to each other.
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