EP #113 – PASTORAL FRIENDSHIPS
After Bob called the Hogs, celebrating the Razorbacks victory, the boys got down to talking friendships among Pastors. Here’s the deal, Pastors often struggle with friendships-especially among themselves. Thanks to Dusty Marshall for the question for this EP.
Here are some stats related to that topic from Pastors Wellness Resources:
- 70% of pastors do not have someone they consider a close friend
- 50% of pastors do not meet regularly with an accountability person or group
- 70% of pastors constantly fight depression
- 90% of pastors say they have not received adequate training to meet the demands of ministry
We hear from Pastors regularly that they feel alone and are isolated-every Pastor needs another Pastor friend, especially locally.
Know the difference between solitude and isolation, we all need solitude but we struggle when isolated.
Stay kingdom minded, partner with other Pastors, partnership is the antidote to competition.
Connect with other Pastors in your town, the local association is a great place to meet other Pastors.
Connect with Pastors who will not only encourage and support you — but also disagree with you. Those who challenge you help you stay sharp and solidify or modify your convictions. We all need those who have a different perspective.
Check out the rest of the insights by giving a listen or reading the show notes below.
Refrigerator Rights by Miller and Spark
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Bob Bickford: [00:00:00] Woo Pig Sooie!!
JimBo Stewart: All right. All right. All right. Look at, you know, Bob, I as come to the conclusion, I don’t think our listeners really care to hear that much about college football. I don’t know that we need to talk about it. There’s nothing really to talk about, about college football this week.
Bob Bickford: Just cause you lost Jimbo, but Hey, it was a close game. It wasn’t a beautiful game by any means, but it was this kind of a ugly close game, but you know, overtime win for the hogs first time. In what? Six years I think like something like that
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, it was a good, it was a good, hard fought battle between two mediocre teams.
Bob Bickford: yeah.
JimBo Stewart: you know, it,
could’ve gone either way, but once, once or twice a decade, we got to let you get, let you have the boot, I guess.
Bob Bickford: Well, I appreciate that. And, I’ll be bringing the hog hat with me to new Orleans at the end of this month. And so we’ll get a picture of you in the hog hat, and we can share that on the social medias. Since we, uh, had me in the pajama top a couple of years back.[00:01:00]
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. I guess, I guess we can that we’ll well, we’ll stick to it. We’ll stick to the vet. No, I had a absolutely wonderful time in Arkansas with my family. I want to go ahead and apologize now to my parents. for the amount of yelling and screaming that they heard as we watched the game on the back porch, there’s no telling what they thought was happening, but, I’m sure that they all, I’m sure all my dad’s neighbors listen to this, but, this podcast.
And so just I’ll go ahead and apologize for how loud we were.
I had a great time seeing everybody and getting to watch the game. There were all sorts of bets had. So there were I mean, highlights in hair with a chalk marker. There was all kinds of things, but we had, we had an absolute blast.
Bob Bickford: That’s good, man. That’s good. Well, what are we talking about on the bootcamp today besides Arkansas LSU?
JimBo Stewart: Well, besides that, I just left at the Jacksonville Baptist association. One of my favorite meetings that I get to be a part of every month here called the pastors [00:02:00] advance. And it’s a group of pastors it’s open group. Any pastors in Jacksonville can come be a part of it. And we usually choose a book to go through kind of a chapter at a time just to give us some structure.
And that’s a valuable discussion and time, but man, the relationships that have been developed in that group over the last few years have really been robust. And, uh, we, it just, that I just was thinking about that as we were preparing for this episode, we had put a post I’d put a post on social media saying, Hey, what would you like to see us discuss?
And, uh, one of our listeners, dusty Marshall. the, the LARPing pastor, out of New Mexico that, that also, has a podcast of his own about replanting and marriage. he posted something about, talking about how churches could partner together, as an association or just with other pastors. And, and so we kind of wanted to riff on that idea a little bit.
Which dovetails [00:03:00] well into the end of last week’s episode, where we talked about friendships in ministry. And one of the last things we ended the previous episode with is the importance of pastoral friendships, because there’s an element that being friends with another pastor can give you.
That is hard to find outside of another pastor, especially with a church member and the stats. Bob really aren’t good. As far as pastors and friendships and their mental health, and some of the things we have from pastors wellness, resources.com is. 70% of pastors do not have someone. They consider a close friend.
50% of pastors do not meet regularly with an accountability person or group 70% of pastors constantly fight depression. And 90% of pastors say they have not received adequate training to meet the demands of ministry. Yet we keep pastoring alone. We keep doing it own our own. I just think this [00:04:00] is such an important conversation for us to talk about.
I would even say part of the question that we were given by dusty. Maybe it wasn’t specifically about this, but I just wanted to emphasize that on the beginning one to dovetail with the end of last week’s episode and then two, just to show. I mean, one of the, one of the reasons we need to network, and one of the reasons we need to partner with other churches is we just need friendships amongst other pastors that understand what we’re going through.
We talked about that some last week, but I just want to start off with that. I’d like if for no other reason, there are plenty of other reasons we’re going to talk about some of those, man, look, look to partner with other pastors and churches because it starts to. Relationships and friendships that will be incredibly valuable to you.
And if these stats are true and they seem true to me, one of them, most of us need this big time.
Bob Bickford: You’re right. Jimbo. I think most of the studies that come out year after year indicate that pastors are lonely and isolated and some of our bootcampers. Are lonely and they’re actually, they are physically isolated from other pastors, right? So [00:05:00] they’re in a small congregation in a rural area.
They’re not a lot of other churches around. Maybe they’re not a lot of brothers from the same tribe. And so they find themselves just in a really awkward position or a really difficult position, I should say, where they’re in need of encouragement. So one of the great things that is true for many of us is through the years as we passed or different places, we’ve made some connections with guys that have lasted, right.
And so there’s been a really awesome thing. And so when you see them at an annual meeting and state convention, or the SBC. It’s really good. And you leave refreshed, from, from that, but there’s a lot of downtime in between. And so this is an important topic for us to really address for four guys.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. I think a lot of us contend to be a little bit like, Elijah, when, right after he has this great moment and first Kings where, he has gone against the profits and he seemed guy bring down fire and show his miraculousness and they runs off any hides. And in first Kings [00:06:00] 18 and 19, multiple times.
he, he whines about it’s me and it’s all me by myself and I’m all alone lowered. And you know, the Lord responds with a few things. One he’s like, Hey idiot, you’re not alone. I got a lot of other people. Um, and then my wife always loves to point out. She uses the memes that have been out there based on this passage about like sometimes, you know, the Lord totalize you again?
Gave Elijah snack and told him to take a nap and she loves to point to that. And sometimes what we’ll need is a snack. When you take a nap one day, I said, yeah, but keep reading the passage. Right. And if you keep reading the passage after the snack and the nap, God looks at Elijah and says, what are you doing here? why are you still here? And multiple times, God has to kind of prod him to get back to work. and so part of this is I would say is. Isolation and loneliness and suffering in general are a part of this. And we definitely in one episode can completely fix that for you. and so maybe you [00:07:00]need a snack and maybe you need a nap, but you also need.
To keep working and you also need to stick it through and do what God has called you to do at moments and for seasons that might lead to some serious isolation. I think you need to work to not be isolated, and we’re going to have some suggestions on how you can do that. but just recognize that this is part of it.
And so don’t whine about. get your snack taken out and get back to work.
Bob Bickford: Those are really good things. I think many times when we go through a difficult events and really this, this episode in his life per sip was precipitated by a different. Event a ministry showdown, right where God came through and he had the victory. So most of us think that. The downtimes will come after defeats, but that’s not true.
Right. And so this passage that we’re looking at, like he had an amazing victory and yet one little threat after an amazing victory, like was the end all Inder for him. And he tanked and isn’t it just like that. I mean, like everything can go well, and [00:08:00] then somebody who just wants to pop off and say something real silly that that’s not true and it’s not going to happen.
They just ruin it for you. Right. So you’re like everything that. I’m going to ignore that and set that aside. Right. And so I think one of the things is, allowing yourself to physically recover even after a big victory, not just a big. ‘ cause there’s, there’s still some things that are going on likely in you physically and emotionally and spiritually after a big victory.
And maybe we were not told in the story, but maybe there was this expectation that this was just going to be the first point on the rise. Right. And so from this point, this victory, everything was going to be. Great, but I’ll, but Elijah gets this critical comment by Joe’s about, and then he runs away and everything falls apart and he’s depressed.
so I want to, I want to point that out and then it seems like to me, That there’s this conversation where he has to, he has to admit and own why he’s, where he, why he is where he is. Right. And so there would come excuses there come the, you know, the pointing to [00:09:00] Joseph Bell, they’re the enemy, this and that.
part of getting healthy is resting and eating well, but also I think there’s verbalizing through. What’s going on with you. Right? And so one of the best practices for me is just to sit down with a journal and journal. And I don’t journal like physically w with pen and paper, but I’ll do that with like a jump drive and a word document and my computer.
And it flows between like, you know, prayer and then observation self-awareness confession, you know, listing out things. And so through that process, I think the Lord has been really gracious to me to help me see things in my life. That sometimes will stay hidden. And one of the interesting things, one of the Christian counselors that I was seeing for a while said this, he said, when you are writing about what’s going on in your life, it accesses a different part of your brain that allow that, that you don’t examine, unless you do that practice of writing.
And so one of the things that. It is important for us to know. We’ve got some things maybe inside of us that we have not been fully aware of where we’ve buried a little bit that are, that are contributing to where [00:10:00] we find ourselves. And so getting before the Lord and digging some of those things out, I think is incredibly helpful.
JimBo Stewart: I think it’s important to point out the difference between solitude and isolation. When, when you talk about. Going by yourself, journaling, getting those thoughts out, processing those that solitude solitude is healthy. Solitude is biblical solitude is pursuing your relationship with Jesus. It’s pursuing emotional health and spiritual health.
If not physical health in solitude. And I highly recommend high, high amounts of health. Solitude to keep you healthy. The difference between that and what Elijah did in first Kings 18 and 19 is Alijah pursued isolation. So solitude is pursuing health and pursuing your relationship with the Lord.
Isolation is running away from people and you need to there’s both of those involve you being alone, but one of those is healing and healthy. And one of [00:11:00] those. Well heap onto the depression and make it worst. And one of the things we have to understand is part of the reason I think we end up not pursuing partnerships with other pastors and churches is we have this consumer driven competition mindset of, well, what if my members go to their members or I feel intimidated because their church is bigger than mine or healthier than mine.
And sometimes people don’t churches don’t collect. Because they are not close enough in proximity. like some of the guys that we’ve talked about that are, that are physically isolated, where they are, and then sometimes they don’t partner just because they feel like their competition. And I want to tell you, the kingdom minded collaboration is the antidote to consumer-driven competition.
I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed this. One of the things that blew my mind when somebody pointed this out to me is in the Lord’s prayer. Every pronoun is portal. Right. W when the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, he taught them a, a way to pray in every [00:12:00] single pronoun was plural. Our father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, right?
Our can give us this day, our daily bread, forgive us our trespasses. there has always been this communal community mindset to what God has designed in. For ministry. And, there’s a great quote from the book missional friendships from our friends at Acoma press, by Vinay Samuel that says partnership is not just a project, not just a committee, making decisions and sending money.
Partnership is expressing the very nature of the Trinity, the Godhead himself partners. Is expressing coin a Nia, the way in which we, as those who are made in the image of God lived together. That is the high challenge we have. That is the expression of the kingdom. I I’m convinced. That we, we have to move beyond a competition [00:13:00] mindset and have kingdom minded collaboration where that is possible.
And I think it may be more possible than necessarily will think. I think there are so many different ways that that can be done, at the church that I pastored in a replant redemption man, we partnered with, several churches on a regular basis to do community nights of worship. To do disciple. Now, weekends to do BBS is to do block parties, to do all sorts of things.
We tried to very rarely ever do any form of outreach event on our own. We tried to, anytime our church did an outreach event, we tried to always find other churches we could partner with, together, just to show that partnership and do that together.
Bob Bickford: Such a good point, in multiple points there, I, I think that, Couple of things just in processing that, cause I, my mind always goes to the how to, right? How do we do that? We’ve highlighted the principles and the values of that. So one is you’ve got to push yourself in a place where you can meet other [00:14:00] pastors, multiple pastors, and you’ve got to do that on a regular basis.
So we’ve got some re planters are revitalized there’s that are moving to an area. man, get involved in that association, maybe invite several of the pastors out to lunch, one at a time, get to know them. try to hang out with them and get to figure out, you know, who they are and what they’re about, and then see whom the Lord really kind of niche your heart together with, because here’s the deal.
We’re going to be really close to some bachelors and we’re going to be friends with others, friendly with others. And so I think that. What helps you have a, a higher degree of opportunity for good friendships with pastors is being around pastors multiple times over a season in life. Now, granted, if we’re staying at a church, a pastor’s tenure of the church is five years or less.
You don’t have a whole lot of time, right? Because you’re doing a lot of different things. So I think make it a priority, right? Make it a priority to spend time with pastors and do that. And then I think you’ve got to take a risk and be vulnerable there they’re Jimbo, I’ve met some pastors right away.
Like within the first three or four minutes, maybe it’s like all about numbers, all about, you know, the latest, [00:15:00] this, and the latest, that all about the program and stuff like that. And if that’s, if that doesn’t resonate with you or you feel like that’s setting up a foundation, a competition, man, what I would say.
Note that keep on moving, be friendly with that brother. Wish him well applaud the good work that he’s doing and that God’s giving them some fruitfulness in and then move on. And you’re going to probably find a brother who’s a heart is shaped like yours in his passions. understanding he’s like yours.
Now, one of the things I would say too is don’t only be friends with people who are just like, You want to be friendly with some folks who are going to challenge you to do as well. And I have a friend, a good pastoral friend that I know I can talk to about anything. And here’s what I also know. He’s probably not going to agree with me.
Like I can just guarantee you like right up front is probably not going to agree with me. And, That is good. And that is also challenging. Right? And he disagrees in a way that invites me to examine what I have just said, or the belief that I’m holding in the light of another thought or in light of scripture or in light of another person’s experience.
All right. Plenty of times he affirms [00:16:00] me plenty of times. We agree, but I say, if you can find some friends that you can have disagreements with, not in a sense of like, okay, well we fundamentally disagree and we’re not going to be in relationship together, but somebody who sees the world different. And challenges your view of the world, because you mentioned that isolation, man, there is nothing that will seem it a view in your mind and your heart more than just be living alone with that view by yourself for an extended period of time.
And so take a risk, bring that, you know, bring some of those thoughts out, have some conversations about them. And then if you have a brother who sees it differently and tells you that, then don’t look at that as somebody who shouldn’t be friends with unpacked. That might be somebody that you definitely should be friends with, who can help you have a different perspective.
JimBo Stewart: I think learning from people who have a different perspective.
Then you is kind of a lost art these days? it seems like if we don’t line up on everything, we kind of write people off, and assume that we can’t learn anything from them. And man, I think we can learn from anybody, right. You gotta learn how to.
One let’s your perspective, be challenged to learn how to [00:17:00] eat the meat and spit out the bones right in, and be able to learn from that perspective. talk about having lunch with pastors, a friend of mine, who’s a pastor in this area, Scott Ellison. he’s a, first Baptist of McClenney I believe.
And he. And he shared some with me other day. That was really challenging. I had not thought to approach lunch with pastors this way, but he has lunch with a lot of pastors in his area. And what he does is he’ll listen to one or two of their recent sermons before they go to lunch and he’ll bring. Like, Hey, man, I just finished listening to your sermon on Luke chapter nine.
And I love the point you made about such and such where there’s so many good things about doing that. Right? One, it encourages the other pastor. Hey, somebody actually lists, you’re the one guy that downloaded the podcast episode, right? to, I, it really. I think tear downs, tear downs, that competition wall pretty quickly.
and then three, it kind of raises the bar on them a little bit. Like, Hey, people are listening to your sermon, so you ought to [00:18:00] do a good job. I think, but I think it brings a connectivity in so many ways. I think that’s a smart thing you could do. as you have lunch with pastors, I think. Try to try to do it.
And triads try to do in threes, try to invite two pastors. And that way, if one of you guys doesn’t connect, maybe the other one does. And that just helps the kingdom in any way. Right. I heard a phrase today in the monthly meeting that I was talking about. I never heard this phrase before and I looked it up on Amazon.
I’ve not read this book, but there’s a book called refrigerator rights. I had never heard that phrase, but I thought it was awesome. so. Recommending or not, or on recommending this book, but just that idea of refrigerator rights, some title, why we need to let people into our hearts and our homes and our refrigerators and how to bring even more close relationships into our lives.
that idea there need to be people who. Who are in your life enough to call you out on things. Gordon MacDonald calls this capital F friends in ordering your private world. you know, we’ve talked about the fact that we are co-laborers with Christ. We need to have pastoral friendships. If you are isolated, even if you’re not isolated, [00:19:00] there are cohorts.
Be. Then benefit from a practical shepherding partners with Nam to do a really great virtual cohort. Joe right out of the Bible, vocational small church leadership network does a bi-vocational cohorts. there, there are other cohorts that, you could be a part of that are virtual, mark Halleck, our buddy in Colorado.
He has cohorts that he does that are virtual. there are ways that you get, get connected to some of those, if you’re so isolated and so rural that you can’t get near somebody, but even if you are in a rural spot, it would be worth the effort and the gas money to find a guy within a day’s driving distance.
And y’all just meet halfway once a month or twice a month and be there for each other to build that. But I think beyond the friendship, Encourage your church to have missional partnerships, both in look for partnerships, with churches that are going to partner with your church, be receiving into that.
You can pursue that. we could do a whole nother episode on that maybe. and then also go ahead. Challenge your church to give partnerships, figure out what church plant or whatever replant or [00:20:00] mission partner that’s your church could be a part of. and there’s so many ways like you’re talking about, if you could partner to do denounce, do outreach events, summer camp for youth, there are so many ways you can think outside of the box to start partnering and building relationships.
But the one mistake I see a lot of guys make is they just complain that they don’t have that, but they’re not taking the initiative. so take the initiative, be the guy that sets up the lunch, be the guy that goes to the associational meetings. Even the ones you don’t want to, even if the meeting is, and it’s not about your attendance at the meeting and anything like that, but just go regularly, build those relationships and then see what happens out of those relationships.
Go after it. Don’t complain about not having. Don’t sit in your, in your cave, like Elijah and just wine go after it go after building those partnerships and relationships, even if It’s difficult.
Bob Bickford: It’s a good word. Some of the best conversations I’ve had have been with pastors that I’ve taken the opportunity to get to know and, spend time with in. And so I’ve got a group of about three guys here in the [00:21:00] city, three or four guys that I’m just like, man, if I had any kind of issue that I needed to process with, or if I just needed to go hang out with somebody, these would be the guys.
And, there’s less. They’re seriousness, there’s prayer, there’s encouragement, there’s challenge and all those sorts of things. And I, I mean, I wish that for everybody, and one of the great places to find that is in the local association, when they’re connecting pastors and, giving pastors on opportunity to, uh, to meet with.
And to do the business of the collective group of churches in a particular city, but also giving you the opportunity to develop deep relationships with guys that are doing ministry and in the trenches right along with you.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. I would say, regardless of where you are, this is a, non-negotiable both in friendships and in posturing, your church to partner with other churches, I think both of those things are non-negotiables. And so you’re going to have to get creative depending on where you are. If you’re super rural and isolated, man, there, there are ways you can, I mean, you could, you can hang out with.
The fire station. You could be a part of the chamber of [00:22:00] commerce. You could, coached little league. I mean, there there’s something, there’s some way that it may not be with other pastors. It may not be related churches, but there are probably partnerships within your community. I guarantee you, there’s some sort of natural networking opportunity that you could take advantage of.
and if there’s no. Man reach out to us and we’ll help you figure it out. Our finding out within, uh, within a day’s drive and just make it intentional. I’ve got a pastor friend that I, I intentionally at least once a month and we’re like 45 minutes to an hour from each other. And we meet in the middle about once a month and just catch up on what’s going on in each other’s lives, encourage each other to be vulnerable with each other.
but our churches have also done denials together and other things like that. That’s just an introduction. If anybody wants more on any of these subjects, let us know, put it in the comments one of our social media posts about this episode, let us know how we could dive deeper into the subject for you.