The ministry can be a very lonely place. Time and time again I have experienced the hurtful outcome of allowing church members to become social friends. Before the Baptist wars turned brother against brother, a pastor could usually find a friend in a local association. Some are still able to do this. Thanks to a lawsuit, I cannot.
If, though, you ever have to take a stance that puts you on the “outside” of those who are perceived to have power, you will find out who your real friends are. There is nothing like being perceived as a “trouble maker” to make “friends” dry up faster than a daisy in the desert.
I once knew a man who would close every conversation we had with the words “love you like a brother”, until he needed a job that rewarded him to spy and report on me. Who needs that kind of a friend. I sent this one packing and will not make the mistake of trusting him again.
Then there is the fellow who has stood beside me through thick and thin. A person whose status and stature are far superior to mine. He has nothing to gain by being my friend. I have very little to offer him. He puts up with my drama and does not fear my temper. He does not let my foolish go unchallenged, nor does he try to tone down my desire for truth. He seeks to help me (even though I am one who has committed denominational suicide). In trying to help me he risks losing other friends. He tries to open doors for me even though to do so is most likely the one of most frustrating tasks anyone could take on.
This man is a friend.
I used to have big names on my resume’. I used to be able to pick up the phone, make a call, and not be put on hold. I still can make the call and not be put on hold, but this is more out of fear than friendship. Now, no one wants to be near me. Denominational workers have been threatened with firing if they talk to me. No one wants their name anywhere close to mine. I am dangerous to them.
My friend doesn’t care.
I know that what I have done was right and righteous. I know that one day I will hear the words well done. I know the Lord will put my enemies at my feet. I hope I have the opportunity on that day to ask the Lord to honor my friend. He has honored me no matter what outcome lies ahead.