You Need a Real Buddy

You Need a Real Buddy

Pastors are facing unprecedented challenges, with many wearing down and wearing out. We asked long-time pastor Richie Rhea to write a word of encouragement to MBC pastors. Here is his post.

The truth is, when you are in a leadership position as a pastor, making genuine friends is tricky. There are lots of reasons why. Some people want to be your friend because they like influencing an influencer. They act like a friend, but they aren’t. I know this sounds terrible, but it’s true. And when you’re no longer their pastor, the relationship will be over.

Friendships for pastors are tricky for other reasons too. We pastors tend to be loners. Early on, perhaps we thought being a pastor would solve our relationship needs. We thought people would look up to us, like us, and want to be our friends.

Here is my question. Do you have a real buddy? Or do you have friendly church members and staff who go with the territory? You love them, care for them, and do things together, but the so-called friendship ends when you are no longer their pastor.

I’m convinced pastors don’t need any more friends; they need a real buddy. The Lord, who is a relationship of awesome love and joy as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, created us in His image. Which means we are created for the experience of loving closeness. (see John 17:21-23) You are created to have real buds. And to be a real bud to others.

Who is your genuine friend? In my experience, it’s been almost impossible to know. But in the end, the friendship will continue through difficult times if it’s real. The friendship will continue even when you disagree with them or they with you. You will still be just as close as ever when you are no longer their pastor. Proverbs 17:17 sums up the kind of bud I am talking about by saying, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” ESV

You need a friend! Everyone can’t be your bud. But there needs to be somebody. When you have a friend, you will go to them, be encouraged, and gain strength, wisdom, and perspective. Christ uses real friends to clear away the fog and help us see.

Jesus will use them to bring strengthening joy into your life. And you for them. This is the buddy who loves you even on your off days. They have a relationship with you that’s not based on your position. You can wear a mask or get a shot and even suggest others do the same, but this friend who disagrees continues to be your friend.

I find in Philippians 1:1–5 a model for the kind of bud we all need. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.” (ESV)

What I find interesting is that Paul wrote these words while in chains and was stuck in jail. When you are trapped, it’s easy to feel isolated and alone; that is when you need a buddy!

The Lord inspired Paul to show us several friendship-building principles. Let’s learn from the great Apostle’s example.

  1. He had a buddy. “Paul and Timothy…” We need a buddy.
  • Paul and his buddy shared an exceedingly important common purpose. “Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus….” We need Christ’s purposes to glue us to our buddies.
  • Paul wrote letters. (Today, he would have sent texts, emails, cards, letters, and made phone calls. He would have stayed in touch.) We must make an effort to keep in touch.
  • Paul lived and shared the grace and peace of Christ. Without this, no healthy relationship can happen. We need the grace and peace of Christ.
  • Paul didn’t just thank people. He expressed thanks to the Lord for people (because anything good in any one of us is purely the result of the work of God). Be thankful to the Lord for friends.
  • Paul prayed for his friends. Pray for your friends.
  • Paul’s partnerships with people were ultimately for the gospel of Christ. If you like the Gospel, you like partnerships, and they go together.

Want a friend? We can ask the Lord for a buddy. We can ask the Lord for partners in the gospel. We can ask the Lord for great friendships that create great memories. We can ask the Lord for a buddy that lasts.

I’m almost 70 and am still learning. I’ve learned that when the fog of stresses rolls in, a real conversation with a real friend makes a gigantic difference. Thankfully, my wife is my best friend and counselor. I also have another friend. He’s a cattle rancher. We don’t agree on everything. He likes to drink a little whiskey in the evening while he reads his Bible. And yet, he’s a very good friend! I hope you are not waiting for a perfect friend. There are none. Real friendships are humbly imperfect. In these challenging times, we need a friend who loves us at all times and is a brother born to come alongside us in times of adversity. If you don’t have that kind of friendship, let me close by giving you this prayer for a buddy.

“Father, you made it possible for me to know you in all the joy that flows between you, the Son, and Your Spirit. The grace you have shown me is amazing. To be at peace with you and to have your peace living in me gives me such joy. Cause me to also be connected to others. I need at least one real buddy. Let me know friendships that produce thankful memories. Cause me to have gracious relationships. I love You. Cause me to love others. For Christ’s glory.”

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