#112 – FRIENDSHIPS IN A REPLANT
The Bootcamp boys are back! Jimbo is fired up for the “battle of the boot” game between LSU and Arkansas. The bet is on-will Jimbo wear the Hog Hat or will Bob wear the Pajama top? We’ll see.
Today the guys answer a question from one of Listeners about how to manage boundaries and friendships with members in our congregation. Listen in as we break it down and talk about all the ins and outs of navigating the issues of friendships within a Replant.
Here are some of the highlights
- Be wise and cautions toward the person who pursues you constantly-just after you arrive at your church.
- Be friendly with everyone, be friends with a few. (Proverbs 18:14)
- Consider the difference between friends and acquaintances.
- Note: you may not really know how deep the friendship is until you have experienced conflict in the friendship
- You may have to deal with “possessiveness” (directly or indirectly)
- Addressing spiritual growth, sin or other issues with a friend/congregant can be difficult.
- During difficult seasons in the relationship you will have to decide: am I their pastor or their friend-it’s not easy.
- Friendships with other Pastors are important critical-get connected to a Pastor in your area.
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Am I a Replanter, Feb 18-19, 2021 New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary
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JimBo: [00:00:00] Here we are back at the bootcamp, leading up to the battle of the boot week off of, an interesting weeks for our teams, LSU and Arkansas, about to be live in the death valley. And I’m afraid Bob. But the odds aren’t looking good for you because I feel like, I feel like LSU is coming, coming in a little bit, bitter, a little bit angry with a little chip on the shoulder, something to prove after being discounted as a opponent to Alabama, to be honest, even by me, I decided I probably wasn’t going to watch the game.
Cause I assumed it was going to be inappropriate for television, how bad the beating would be. Okay. The fact that LSU kind of hung in there for a little bit with Alabama and even to the last seconds, you guys are gonna have to come live to death valley on a Saturday night, and there’s no more dangerous place than live in death valley on Saturday.
Bob: Well, I do think there is a more dangerous place and Jimbo, if I’m, if I reach back in my memory, it’s outside of what’s cooking early in the morning for breakfast.[00:01:00]
JimBo: That could be true. That could be true.
Bob: But yeah, I think, LSU probably got an edge for a edge on Arkansas and Arkansas. I’ve been playing that great. And you know, we eat out a win against state because they apparently don’t have anybody in Mississippi state who can kick a field goal. So, if you’re for all of those bootcamp listeners who are at Mississippi state stop, listen to this podcast, head on down to the football stadium and try to kick some field goals and get your school paid.
JimBo: there you go. See if you can walk on and become the hero of the whole thing.
JimBo: Well, I’m excited to see what comes from that game. This weekend. My plan is to be in. Arkansas with my family at my parents’ house in enemy territory, watching the game, enjoying some time with family and I’ll be taking our boot trophy up for a short visit to so my family can see it.
They haven’t been in possession of it in many. and so I wanted to make sure they at least get to [00:02:00] see the boot it’s been with us now so many years, I went ahead and released it up with some purple laces
Bob: Oh, wow.
JimBo: can show that it’s starting to get some LSU personality to it. As I take it up there.
Bob: Well, we’ll see how the wager goes. Every year we do the bootcamp wager. And if I win, then you will, where the hog cat will get a picture of that. And then if you win, I’ll have to put on that pajama top from LSU.
And, we will actually be together at the, I think the next time we’re in the same physical location, we’ll be at the end of this month.
And so the wager will be paid. we will have a connection in new Orleans, at the seminary. We we’re doing some training, and excited about that. We’re actually going to be back in new Orleans in February. I think GMO for, am I a replant or man? If you are near the area you got to get down there.
It’s gonna be great.
JimBo: Yeah. So we’ll, we’ll put a link in the show notes for the AMI re planter event in February. We would love to see you if you can. Get there and traveling distance. There’s some good logic there at the [00:03:00] seminary. Me, Bob Fred Luder is going to be one of our speakers. George Ross, Ryan Rice, double doc is coming all the way from key west with his wife.
And there’ll be a part of that event, is really going to be a valuable time for anyone wanting to know more. Replanting. And if they’re considering replanting or just wanting to know more, or even partner churches that are looking to do replanting, want to understand more about what it takes to be a re planter and who they’re looking for in order to do that.
And then at the end of this month, if you’re in the area, hit us up, we’ll be there in this month. And we’d love to see if we can While we’re there. maybe we can go get some vineyards as well. Bob wares and LSU.
Bob: I didn’t say anything about wearing it actually out in, like to a restaurant or anything Jimbo. So if that’s the way you you’re making that, I’m, I’m hoping the hogs when God love to see you eating some crawfish at two Fe while wearing a Razorback hog hat.
JimBo: Hey, we’ve got a question sent into us for today’s episode. It was sent via private [00:04:00]message with the preface that is important for us. I’m not going to read the whole question, but this says I do have a question. I ran it by my wife. And she said that I have to send it to you anonymously. And that I cannot come on a episode to talk about this publicly.
So somebody asked,
they sent in this question and said, you can’t tell people who I am. You can’t, you can’t let people know who asked this question. And it’s a longly worded question. But here’s what it basically boils down to Bob is they want to know what do I do with members that we’ve become friends with, but now there have been some pitfalls in that friendship.
they’ve become a little bit meaty, a little bit possessive, maybe even some inappropriate uses of influence and the friendship, trying to shift things in leadership because of the relational influence. It’s hard to do. Postural correction, with a peer. and so really the question is about how do we manage boundaries, and friendships with.
Bob: I mean, [00:05:00] that’s a tough one because I think a lot of pastors and pastors, families struggle in the area of relationships with. People in their congregation. I mean, think about it. If you are leaving a place where maybe you spent three or four years going to school, or maybe you’re sent out from a church that’s loving, loving congregation, you’re starting over.
Right. And one of the things I’ve, I’ve noticed Jimbo is the people who want to be your friend, right from the get go right from the jump are probably the people. You should be a little wary. Right. So I’ll just say that up front, if you just move to, if you move to a new ministry setting, the person who’s really like does over the top pursuing you and really wants to be your friend.
I would just say, be. Don’t always be suspicious, but you should be wise. And she, you might want to be a little bit wary because I’ve noticed in my own experience. And then in some conversations with pastors, the person who’s always around and always pursuing you, they may have a little bit of an agenda and they might not even know they have an [00:06:00] agenda, but they might, they might have some sort of agenda.
JimBo: That’s hard and it makes the dynamics weird because we know that ministry is such a relational thing and that ministry is done in relationships, but There’s a lot of different views on the different ends of the spectrum on how do you handle friendships as a pastor from pastors? I know that say.
Man don’t be friends, do not be close friends with your church members. You cannot do it. It won’t work. You will get burned. And it’s because of some of these pitfalls things to others who, who try to find all their friendships within the membership, because they believe that that’s how they’re supposed to live.
Incarnationally relationally with the people. And, all those things are interesting. Theoretical approaches to this quandary. But it’s not easy to live this out in everyday life because relationships are such an important part of ministry. And so I’ve heard you say, but I’ll be friendly with everyone, but be [00:07:00] close friends with a few.
And I think that’s maybe an important thing to think about here in the beginning of this conference.
Bob: Yeah. I think, you know, w w obviously you, you want to be a person who. is hospitable and warm and welcoming. And you know, both of us, I think we’re both more extroverted than introverted. And so it’s going to be a little easier for us just to be friendly with folks. We like to hang out with people. So it’s easy for us to grab lunch with folks after a church, or maybe go to a game or hang out and go to the party or a birthday party or a bonfire or something like that.
So I would just say in the general. Be friendly with everybody and all of those things that I just described, that’s being friendly. And in those settings, you’re going to have the opportunity to make some deeper connections where you might become close friends with the. I think the verse in Proverbs that says, there’s a friend who sticks closer than a brother, and that’s going to be true of youth all throughout your life.
You’re going to find some friends who mean they’re going to be there [00:08:00] regardless if things are going well, or if they’re not going well, they’re going to be with you just because that’s who they are. And they know how to do friendship. And you’ve developed that with him. But there are some friends who are going to be friendly as long as things are going well.
And as long as the church is going the way they want it. And I think in my own experience, what I’ve realized was that, I think I emotionally invested in some relationships at a deeper level than they actually were. I just would want to say from, from my experience, man, pastor be wise in that and you and your wife be wise in that and know that, you are to be friendly, but Ben choose your friends were very white.
and most of the time you’re going to have a few friends. You’re not going to have like, A thousand friends. Now, it’s kind of funny that we’re talking about that because on Facebook Jimbo, you and I probably have quite a few friends. Right. And so the word friend for us in our culture can mean it can mean somebody that I met once or somebody who’s a friend of my friend or somebody who follows me on Facebook.
And because they view my post. They [00:09:00] think I’m a friend. And so I think we, we really need to maybe do some reclamation on that idea of what does it really mean to be an, a friend versus what it means to be an acquaintance?
Part of that as we’ve discussed before is it’s hard. You can’t really know if you can get in deep with somebody until. You’ve had some disagreements and get on the other side of disagreements. And so we’re not saying that you need to contrive conflict in your relationships, but I might, I, if some people would probably disagree with this I’m sure, but I might would encourage you as far as how deep do you go in friendship?
I might would hold my cards a little close to my chest as far as being incredibly deeply vulnerable with somebody until we’ve been through some level of conflict where we not, where we are, we’re on the same side of a conflict against somebody, but where we had conflict with each other, where we had a disagreement on how something should happen.
And we were able to process through that. And [00:10:00] as we get on the other side of that, that’s, that’s really, when you begin to see. What a friendship can be. And if it can survive that if, if not even become stronger through a process of.
Bob: I love that in men, it is so critical to, to have seasons with people. And this is really hard for pastors because pastors are typically in one location, maybe three to five years, and then they move on. And so really in that first year, if you’re in a replant too, you’re, you’re afraid when people are coming at you.
You’re like, can I be friends with. Can it, can I trust them? Can I not like, especially if the church has had a path, a history of having difficult pastorates right. Your, your radar’s always up. So be friendly, but be friends with a few. And I love the advice of just me. And you’ve got to have a, you got to have several experiences over a period of time with someone to understand, man, is this, is this person someone I can really be, developing a deeper friendship.
JimBo: Now, one of the other weird [00:11:00] pitfalls that I’ve seen happened, anonymous submitter of this question brought this up as well, and I’ve experienced this and I’ve heard of some other pastors it’s not universal. It doesn’t happen always, but sometimes as you begin to develop a friendship, maybe it’s a couple.
Right. And like, as like, as a married couple dating, another couple is what it feels like, like you, like, you’re trying to figure out, like, do we, do we really actually get along? Do you like, does the husband, like the husband, does the wife like the wife? Can we actually enjoy each other? And it’d be the kind of couple that, that does this.
Sometimes when you start to, to hang out with somebody in the church, they will become possessive. And they’ll, they’ll expect every Sunday, we’re going to go out to lunch after church or, and they’ll get frustrated. Maybe even if you go out with somebody else, it starts to feel like we actually are dating.
Like it’s become an exclusive relationship. And, that’s one thing just to deal with in general. But what do you do with that? When you’re, when [00:12:00] you’re a pastor, you’re in leadership as a church and all of a sudden somebody in it may not be a couples, but somebody gets a possessiveness of you or your spouse in their relation.
Bob: Yeah, Jim, I think there’s two choices we could do the indirect approach or the direct approach. So I think as much as I’m a high D personality, you might want to start with the indirect approach for. Right. So the other thing too is not only is the couple becoming possessive of you, but the congregation is noticing it right.
There are other people in your church who will notice that like the pastor always goes out, he and his family always hang out with, or they always go out to lunch with, right. So the indirect approach is just varying that up. Right. And then getting on the same page with your wife, because here’s what I think.
And this probably happened to you when you pastored, somebody asked you to go out to lunch and you thought, you know what? I know we’ve got leftovers at the house and I’m thinking, going out to lunch sounds really good to me. So they ask you and you’re just like, all right. Yeah. And then you go and talk to your wife.
And [00:13:00] like she had, she was planning on eating the leftovers and then you going out in the yard and doing some, you know, planting flowers or whatever the kids have this or that. So you and your wife got to get on the same page. All right. In terms of like going out after church or going out on a weekend, you, you, and it’s okay to say, Hey, you know what, let me talk to my wife.
And I want to make sure I’m not sure that I know everything’s on, on her plan or agenda or calendar. So let me check. But once you do that, be on the same page with your wife, you might also need to be on the same page with your wife or just saying, Hey, we’ve got out with this one group or this one, couple a lot.
We probably need to vary it up. How about we mix somebody else in there too, to kind of, you know, large and large in the group to kind of make it a more of a, a larger group where that couple doesn’t feel like they, they have some sense of ownership over you. So that’s the indirect approach. Let’s say you do.
And you’ve practiced that for all. Maybe you’ve not, you’ve turned down an invitation. You’ve gone out with [00:14:00] another couple. If the couple who’s become possessive of you and wants to be kind of exclusive of you, if they want to talk about it, then you have to shift to the direct approach, right. To understand.
Okay, we’re going to have to have a longer conversation here, and this might be a little bit more painful. And probably will be painful. And how do I navigate this? And in the direct approach, I don’t think you have to unpack the suitcase, you know? I don’t think you have to unpack everything that you’re thinking and feeling.
And I don’t think that’s being disenchanted. But I think you need to just be careful in what you say and maybe just say, you know, Hey guys, we’re w we’re just trying to get to know everybody in the church or we’re spending time with, you know, a lot of different folks or we’re really tired. And we needed to be, you know, just as a family needed a break to kind of go home and like, just help me understand.
What, what are you thinking here? What, what are you feeling? What what’s going on? And leave an open-ended question rather than leveling an accusation. You wouldn’t want to start the conversation. Well, I think you [00:15:00] guys are just too possessive of us, right? Like then it’s game on. Right. And he just like, it’s going to be a disaster.
You just probably want to say, Hey, what are you thinking? Like, tell me what you’re feeling and just process that out and then ask a follow-up question. W w why are you feeling that way? What’s underneath that and help me understand and all those sorts of questions, then you’ll sort of get to the bottom of that.
Now the problem is sometimes people who are real possessive Jimbo, they won’t have an emotional, understanding of why they’re frustrated or they might not have the words to describe what they’re feeling and what they’re feeling may be coming from a place of woundedness or insignificance or, or a sense of.
Right. If we can just, if we can be the couple that’s always close to the pastor, and then that gives us power and power brokers never betray their source of power. They, they always want to maintain it. And so I think you just gotta be really wise and careful if you’re taking that direct approach and addressing it head on.
JimBo: part of the difficulty in this is the other.[00:16:00] Do you, I mean, do you enjoy, is it life giving for you and your wife to spend time? with this couple, you know, God blessed us early in our replant with a couple that a family that was transferred here by the military. Around the same time that we came here from new Orleans, they came from the same church we were at, and they were a huge blessing to us and became kind of a safe space for us, to go and be relational.
But we had to set, we had to set some boundaries with them and there’s another couple of. That, that was a part of the church for a long time with us that, we became close enough and they were life-giving to us that we went ahead and set some boundaries of, Hey, when we come to your house or you come to ours, or we go to dinner together, what we need to do is there doesn’t need to be a, what I call the impromptu job performance review that you get a lot of times. Like my least favorite part of [00:17:00] going to a meal or, or a social environment with church members is often times I felt like all of a sudden I was in the middle of an impromptu job performance review. and they would start coming at me about certain things in the church. And, and in my mind, I had shifted to, we’re just hanging out as friends and we’re whatever.
And so we’ve had some friends that we set that boundary with. and then there are others that have wanted to possess are a lot of, lot of our time. And just to be honest, they were not life-giving for us. And so it, we knew going into it. This has meant. This is they’re members of our church. And so we love them and we need to shepherd them and build relationship with them so that we can do that.
but it wasn’t life-giving. And so we did have to set boundaries on how much time we spent with them and know that this was, this was kind of a ministry assignment time for us. And so we didn’t go into that. No, it’s figuring out how to compartmentalize that, but even no matter which of those camps.
These people are in here’s. The other piece I think is so hard. Bob, how [00:18:00] do you shift from this peer relational mode? And then when necessary assert pastoral authority for corrective discipleship or even church discipline, right? When, when, when there’s behavior that’s just needs to be addressed, that is not, in line with the fruit of the spirit and as immature, like, an arrogance, both arrogant.
Arrogant boastfulness or even the possessiveness, right? Even that possessive of you can only go out with us. There’s a pastoral shepherding responsibility in a sense to kind of address that type of immaturity in a member, but it can, it’s almost like you have to wear different hats. How do you make that distinction when dealing that with a member?
Bob: Yeah, you’ve touched on one of the most difficult situations in pastoring people that you’re friendly with. And also I’ve become friends with. I think that, you have to understand what hat you have on in that moment. And then sometimes you get. Take one hat off and [00:19:00] put another one on. And so I think introducing a conversation to say to someone, Hey.
And I need to talk to you just as a brother in Christ here. That’s like the friend aspect of it, right, man. I’ve noticed this about, you know, the, the way you interact with your wife and I’ve just have some concerns about that. Right. And so can I, can we just have that conversation, right? That’s that’s a way to introduce it.
I mean, I I’m your, I love you. I’m your friend. I’m your brother let’s have the conversation Jimbo. If that doesn’t go well. And if other people, perhaps other elders. Becoming aware of, let’s say a situation in a marriage, then you have to move out of that friend and peer role into that pastor role. And this is why Th there have to be, uh, not just one pastor, but several pastors, right.
That are involved in caring for the congregation, I think is super helpful. Or if they’re not in some of our guys that are re planters, they stepped into situation where they, they have deacons or they have committee leaders. They don’t have other elders. Right. So they’re to they’re at a distinct disadvantage in some regards, in doing [00:20:00] church discipline or having caring, conversations, they have to, to move into that position.
relationship. Right? Um, now the pastor is a person who’s been entrusted with overseeing the flock, and now we’re going to have to have a different conversation. It meant I had to, I’ve had to do that before and that changes the relationship. and I I’ve seen that and I’ve experienced that in, I can’t think of a situation where.
I’ve had to go from a peer kind of friend kind of brother to positional pastor, and deal with an issue where it’s gone back to the, this, the peer relationship again. And that’s been my experience over the multiple, multiple years. I’ve been in ministry and you know, I’ll say maybe I’ve handled it wrong.
Maybe I’ve done it wrong. but in the instances That have, that have had to act as a pastor for a position there’ve been significant issues. One was a real strong marital issue. And one of them was a guy that wanted to be an elder and he wasn’t typing and he wasn’t, he couldn’t show up to church on time.
So he just wanted to be my friend and I was like, Hey bro, if, you’re not [00:21:00] giving and you’re not able to show up to church, I’ve got real questions about you being an elder. and so ma’am that we immediately moved from friendship to pastor congregant in that situation. And then also in a marriage situation.
Cause I, I, we were in a, we were in a, a real, difficult conversation. And I think you, you’ve got to try as a brother, you got to try as a friend and then if you have to go to that position, far as a pastor and exercise church discipline, just be prepared that that’s probably going to change the relationship.
JimBo: Yeah, I think there are some things you can do maybe to attempt to mitigate it that I’ve done at times is even a dedicated communication chain. For more official things. and what I mean by that is one of the things we did with some of the members that we kind of set those boundaries and said, Hey, we need a safe place to just be friends.
As we said, I do want to hear your voice when you have concerns or, and I need a, I need an avenue [00:22:00] also. To speak to you pastorally. And so when we do that, what I’d like us to do is set up, set an appointment to meet in my office. and, we know that when we set an appointment to meet in my office, that that’s, uh, a place for you to, as a member speak concerns to me about how the church is being led or things like that.
But it’s also a place for me to speak to you as. And to speak without authority into your life. And we know that we’re going to somewhat relegate that to, to that specific location and way of communicating. And that way we know when we walk into the office, that’s what’s happening. and. try to set those boundaries, but you have to, if you’re going to set it and it doesn’t have to be the opposite, you can set whatever boundaries you want to set.
But once you set that, you really kind of need to live by that. and so you can’t just like, you don’t want them to imprompt to give you a job performance review while you’re at lunch, you don’t need to impromptu. Give pastoral authority, correction in their life at lunch [00:23:00] without them knowing that’s what’s coming.
and also I will also wouldn’t start the friendly lunch with, Hey, we need to meet my office tomorrow morning. but that’s gonna make the lunch really, really awkward. but, but figure out a way to commute. You know, and maybe it, maybe it’s it’s I think it can help just to even professionally word, an email, right.
Email them and say, it’s joy being your pastor. There’s some things I’d like to discuss when is a good time that we could meet. Yeah in my office and that does let them know. And look, I don’t know if there’s a great way to say it. Right. And you could even put in the email what it is you want to discuss.
Cause we also never liked when people go, Hey, we need to talk, like, that’s a scary phrase. Like what, what do you need to talk about? You gotta give me more specific information. but creating those avenues, I’ve done that some and been able to maintain some friendships. With some, some people, but it doesn’t always work, more, more, more than not even if you do that, it’s going to be difficult.
And so [00:24:00] here’s where you have to make a choice. Pastor. Are you pro are you primarily their pastor? Does, does Hebrews 13. Apply here. Do you, do you, are you held accountable for charge of their souls and leading them? And at that point you have to be willing to lose the friendship if necessary, hopefully you don’t.
and, and maybe even if you have a riff, like the apostle Paul and John mark do in the book of acts. Well, towards the end of Paul’s life, he asked for John mark to come visit him. And it seems like they reconciled at some point. And I would always attempt reconciliation if we can, especially if they’re still in the church, but this is one of the hard parts.
Right. And I have knowing that primarily I have to be your pastor. Primarily I have this spiritual responsibility and role that I have to fulfill, and that supersedes the friendship. I think here’s the last thing I would say. Well, I think that’s. Having friendships with other pastors outside of your area.
[00:25:00] It’s so important. it’s people that know the world you live in, they know the pressures that you have. They know that those issues, and there are people you can go to and say, here’s what I’m struggling with. How, how would you handle that? Can you help me? Can you pray for me? Hey, I’m having lunch with so-and-so or we’ll meet in my office.
Can you just pray? And it’s a safe person outside of the ecosystem of your. Congregation that you can kind of bounce things off of and be friends with, and, and have those healthy friendships. And you, you, I think you should try to have some friendships within the church, but they shouldn’t all be there.
You need some friendships outside of the church, for sure.
Bob: Super good word. And I concur and. There needs to be a way for you to have a conversation, with another pastor about the challenges you’re facing and for it to go, to the place where he’s encouraging you to pursue Christ, to act according to the gospel and to be a [00:26:00] good pastor and not just commiserating with your mates.
Right. And those are some of the best conversations where somebody is able to do all of those things. And you still feel that kindred brotherhood or friendship with them. Right? I have had the conversation with a pastor that feels like I come and want to process something out. And then he hands me a list of five things that I was doing wrong.
And then 10 that I need to do. Right. It’s like. That’s not helpful. Right. I mean, it can be helpful, but it’s like, that’s not, I don’t think that’s quite what I was looking for, but I’m looking for someone who can just honestly hear me out and go, yeah, that’s hard. have you thought about this or can I just push on this a little bit?
Right. And there’s a finesse to that. And I guess what I would say, Jimbo is the finesse that you discover in a true friendship feels really. And Vanessa might not be the right word to use, but there’s a, there’s a, a characteristic of a close friendship, characteristics of close friendship, where it just [00:27:00] feels it’s easy.
Right. And you feel encouraged and you feel empowered to be who God’s called you to be. And so I would say pastor, when you feel that when you discover that and value that and, be wise, be discerning, be friendly with everyone, be friends with.