What does a person, who is a friend, an advisor, and a confidant, look like? Are there certain qualities that make a person fit for this position in your life? These are important questions because, for many average pastors, they have never had someone like this in their lives. You may feel fearful of having someone who has that kind of power in your life. How do you know you can trust them?
When I (Richard) first came to the church I now serve, there was quite a bit of division within the congregation. Two factions were at war with each other, and it wasn’t pretty! One thing I knew, if I became close friends with anyone who was involved in the conflict, I would likely get bad advice from them. Even if they meant well, too much bad blood existed on both sides for me to be able to trust the advice I might receive. Although I became close with many of the people who were there at the time, I took my wisdom and advice from friends outside the church.
That may not be true for you in your ministry. It’s likely that there is someone in your church who would give you great counsel, if you allow it. But you should know what to look for in someone who will be that “friend who sticks closer than a brother”:
- This person should be a follower of Jesus. We are not saying that only Christians can display wisdom, or that you can’t find counsel in secular sources. But we believe that the people who are closest to you, the ones who are speaking into your life, should be followers of Jesus.
We believe that the people who are closest to you, the ones who are speaking into your life, should be followers of Jesus.
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Why is this important? You want someone talking to you who shares your values and your way of looking at the world. Otherwise, at some point, there will likely be a conflict as your friend’s worldview clashes with your own.
- This person should be actively growing in his/her faith. It isn’t enough that a confidant is a follower of Jesus. He or she needs to be serious about his/her faith. They need to be actively seeking Jesus, growing in the important areas of life.
How do you know if someone is serious about their faith? It isn’t someone who carries the largest Bible or talks the most about their faith. Instead, look for someone who looks like Jesus in their thoughts and behavior. If they are loving, kind, servant-hearted, gentle, and so forth, that person might be a good choice.
- This person should demonstrate wisdom in other areas of his/her life. You want someone who has demonstrated a level of wisdom into play in your life. Look at several key areas: How do they treat their spouse? Does their marriage appear to be going well? How do they relate to their kids? Are they loving and kind toward other people? Do they serve willingly?
If you can, look into how they are regarded at work. Are they highly thought of? Do they work hard? All these things can give you insight into how they will be as a close friend/advisor.
- This person should demonstrate faithfulness in other areas. This goes to the heart of the concern many pastors have about a close confidant: Will this person keep our conversations and my secrets safe? We are big believers that the words of Jesus should inform us in this area: “Whoever is faithful in very little is also faithful in much, and whoever is unrighteous in very little is also unrighteous” (Luke 16:10). Don’t trust someone with big things until you see they are faithful in smaller things.
- If possible, choose someone who knows you well. This isn’t always possible, especially if you haven’t taken time in recent years to cultivate close relationships. But there is a comfort in knowing people for long periods of time. That isn’t to say that people you have known for shorter periods can’t become important to you.
Don’t trust someone with big things until you see they are faithful in smaller things.
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When you find a person who fulfills these qualifications, you have probably found someone who can be a good friend for you. Take the time to develop a richer, deeper relationship with this person. Don’t be afraid to open your heart and soul to this person.
– Nelson Searcy and Richard Jarman
The above excerpt is from p. 117-119 of The Renegade Pastor’s Guide to Managing the Stress of Ministry.
Pastors Nelson Searcy and Richard Jarman share their secrets to effective stress management with practical steps and insights that you can start implementing immediately! God wants you to be a fruitful, faithful minister of the gospel. He wants you, as a Renegade Pastor, to rise above average as you pursue God’s best for you, your family, and your ministry.
Your partner in ministry,