Be the Friend You Wish You Had

Recently, I read that 70% of pastors don’t have any close personal friends. I have quoted this figure publicly and several pastors have confided to me that it is true for them. They admitted that they don’t have any close personal friends. This made me very sad. I think it is also true of CEOs and other leaders as well.

Three Close Friends - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/H-Gall, Image #9622620

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/H-Gall

Why is this true?

I know that for years, I didn’t think I needed any close friends. I assumed that my colleagues at work and the people I went to church with were enough. I finally woke up the fact that I didn’t really have any close personal friends. All of them were either dependent on me in some way or simply acquaintances.

Since that time, I have been much, much more intentional about friendships. In fact, this is one of the “accounts” in my Life Plan. I have several great friends, most of whom live in my neighborhood. We get together on a regular basis and support and encourage one another.

When I mentioned this in a talk I gave recently at Catalyst West, one brave soul asked, “But what if you don’t have any friends? Where do you start?”

My answer? Be to others the friend you wish you had. It’s that simple.

For example, here are the characteristics I look for in a close friend. I want someone who …

  • Shows up for me when I am in a crisis.
  • Listens empathetically without judging.
  • Is willing to pitch in when I am too embarrassed to ask.
  • Affirms me when I doubt myself.
  • Reminds me of who I am, when I forget.
  • Celebrates my wins and mourns my losses.
  • Remembers the things that are important to me.
  • Trusts me with their secrets.

Do you wish you had that kind of friend? Well, God says that you reap what you sow (e.g., see Galatians 6:7).

If you want this kind of friend in your life, then go BE this kind of friend to others. You might be surprised to see what happens.

I am on vacation this week and offline. I will not be participating in the comments as I usually do. However, my daughter, Megan Hyatt Miller will be moderating the comments on my behalf.
Question: What are the characteristics of the friends you have—or wish you had? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://www.philippknoll.com Philipp Knoll

    This is so true. And not only did I notice that it works this way for personal friendships. This is also the way to go for bloggers. Ever wanted more followers and needed people to care about your content? Start caring for others content, start commenting, start to listen and you will get readers, commenters and an audience in return. … only works if you are authentically engaging with others.

    Very profound reminder, thanks, Michael.

    • Anonymous

      Phillip, I think you make a good point about how the “do unto others” principle applies also to blogging and social media. Food for thought.

      • http://www.philippknoll.com Philipp Knoll

        Thanks, Megh, I appreciate your feedback. I find it most interesting what people with different backgrounds and different interests get out of one and the same article. Other commenters focused more on the “church” topic – which is of interest to me but I believe that this article holds a lot more information then that. It is a very basic principle and can be very powerful. I’m experiencing this right now and it feels great.

    • http://joeandancy.com Joe Abraham

      I agree, completely.

      • http://www.philippknoll.com Philipp Knoll

        Thanks, Joe!

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      I agree. It’s the Golden Rule, no matter where we are.

  • Timothy Fish

    Perhaps I’m reading what you said incorrectly, but I can’t imagine having friends any better than the people I go to church with. I’m closer to some of them than others, but I couldn’t ask for better friends. The churches I have been a member of have both been great churches, so maybe my expectations are high, but have you considered that the problem might be with the church?

    • http://modernservantleader.com/ Benjamin Lichtenwalner

      I can relate to Michael’s comment and clarify, at least for me, that this means people I only know at church. you make a great point – church is an excellent Place to find friends. The key point I took away was to change those acquaintances from only occurring at church, to becoming friendships outside of worship and Bible studies.

      • Joe Lalonde

        Benjamin, I took the same thing away as you did. It’s not that church friends are bad. It’s that most of the time they’re just acquaintances.

        • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

          Especially as a staff member. Even though there is no distinction, people still see a difference between clergy and laity.

    • Anonymous

      Timothy, to clarify, I think my dad meant that if your friendships at church only take place during coffee hour on Sunday, but are not deeply integrated into the rest of your life, you’ll come up short. Church is certainly a great place to develop relationships with like-minded people. Speaking personally, I just need to make sure I’m investing in those relationships outside of church, as well as inside.

      • http://leiacellaa23.blogspot.com Princess Leia

        I’ve recently come to the realization that many of my church “friends” are really more like co-workers than actual friends. We have things in common, we’re working towards a common goal (for the most part), but we don’t really know anything about each other other than basic demographics.

        The next realization was that it was my own fault as much as anyone else.

      • http://www.bukville.com/ Buky of Bukville

        Megh, you made a great point. Church is indeed a great place to make new friends, and develop relationship with like minded people.

        As for me right now, I am learning how best to invest in those relationship outside the church and take it to a new level is what I am working on.

        Great post, thanks for sharing

      • Timothy Fish

        Megan,

        I believe we’re saying the same thing, only I’m saying that if those types of friendships aren’t naturally occurring within the church, the church has a problem. Coffee hour, fellowship meals, and the like are great, but if that’s all a person is getting out of church then they’re either missing the best part or the church isn’t much of a church. Yes, these are the people you fellowship with, but these are also the people you go to for help in a time of need. These are the people whose shoulder you cry on. These are the people you study with. These are the people who walk beside you in Christian service. These are the people who visit you in the hospital and attend the funerals of your loved ones. And in times of persecution, these are the people you die with. If these things don’t define friendship, I don’t know what does. I have friends outside of church, but my dearest and best friends are all part of my church family.

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    My friends –

    They are bankable always
    They are accessible always
    They are by my side always
    They provide good counsel in all times of need
    They are those with whom I can share anything

    • Joe Lalonde

      Uma, that’s a good list of qualities to have in friends.

      • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

        Thanks Joe!

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        Agreed!

    • http://joeandancy.com Joe Abraham

      Beautiful way of presenting things Uma!

      • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

        Thanks JoeQ You are welcome!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Michael, This is something near and dear to my heart as a leader of pastors. Absolutely vital to any leaders survival ability to reach their potential. Thanks for the remeinder!

  • http://modernservantleader.com/ Benjamin Lichtenwalner

    Consistency: I believe a good friend is all that you mention, consistently. Acquaintences may reflect these characteristics on occasion. A friend reflects them always.

    Builds: A real friend makes you a better person than you were without them. As you mentioned, we all have people depending upon us that drain our accounts. Friends make deposits into our accounts and build us up.

  • http://www.leahadams.org Leah Adams

    I want a friend who will hold me accountable and say the hard things to me. Thankfully, I have a couple of those kinds of friends, in addition to my husband. I also want friends who will pray for me and entrust their prayer needs to me.

    Also, I think the same is true for pastor’s wives…they find it hard to make friends as well.

    • Anonymous

      Leah, I think you are absolutely right about pastor’s wives. I often think that could be one of the loneliest positions to be in, if you’re not careful. Thanks for the reminder.

    • http://joeandancy.com Joe Abraham

      That’s true friendship!

    • TNeal

      My wife found her role as pastor’s wife tough. People talk to a pastor’s wife about things they would never approach the pastor about.

    • Renee

      My father was an ordained minister which meant I was a PK (preachers kid). So true about pastor’s wives… and also their children. There was lots of judgement and pointing fingers when my mom and I were actually human and not “perfect.” Tough way to grow up, wouldn’t wish that on any child.

      • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

        That’s so true Renee! I can relate this thing in many of my known chruches.

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Accountability ….. I like that

  • http://building-his-body.blogspot.com/ Anne Lang Bundy

    I am human and may unintentionally let a friend down. I am ready to see where I am wrong and apologize. I am ready to forgive.

    I want a friend who does likewise.

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Go on Anne.

  • http://twitter.com/MacKinnonChris Chris MacKinnon

    Tom Rath’s “Vital Friends” describes various kinds of friendships, and reminds us that what we receive in some friendships isn’t likely to be what we give in friendships. It is an interesting tool if you feel like you need certain types of friendships and how you might go about cultivating them.

    I find it important to have friendships both within and without my profession (pastor). Friends “within” provide encouragement and accountability. Friends “without” treat me as just another person, and our conversation rarely involves work issues.

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      That’s great insight Chris

  • http://www.warriorshepherd.com/blog Dave Hearn

    I’ll agree with this one… it’s hard, especially as leaders, to find “peers” that you can relax with and identify with. Many times there’s an (artificial?) barrier between leaders and their followers. Personally coming from a military background where it’s part of the culture, it’s hard to break through this wall.

    Michael, great words of wisdom here. I will begin to apply this… you are filling up my Evernote with your outstanding blogs!

    • Anonymous

      Dave, thanks for your kind words. Glad you are enjoying Evernote. I’ve not thought about this idea of leadership and friendship would manifest itself in the military, but I appreciate you bringing up that example.

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      “it’s hard, especially as leaders, to find “peers” that you can relax with and identify with.” – I completely agree with you Dave!

  • http://www.jeremysconfessions.com Jeremy@confessionsofalegalist

    I have struggled having really good friends too. It’s like having a rally good marriage, it takes effort and time. I like the one about listening emphatically. I really struggle listening with that level of intensity because I am just not that interested. I guess I need to be more interested in the person to listen better.

    • Anonymous

      Jeremy, I think listening is key, but perhaps, one of the hardest traits to cultivate in ourselves. It is a selfless act of love, especially when we aren’t very interested in what the other person is talking about. Personally, I know some of my most meaningful moments of connection in friendship have come when a friend was willing to listen to me. I think it’s worth our effort and time to develop our skills in this area. Blessings.

      • Phil Kaufmann

        Agreed. It took me months to really develop my listening skills. About seven years ago, I determined to become a great listener. For the first 3-4 months, I did not offer any comment in any meeting unless I was specifically asked. The next couple of months, I limited myself to one unsolicited comment in a meeting. Those rules were maybe a bit extreme, but they worked!

        Another way to develop listening is to read up on watching body language and then apply what you’ve read (this works great in both one-on-one and group settings.) Watching body langauge closely forces you to listen to the speaker; you have to listen to the words to know if the body language is reinforcing or contradicting what the speaker is saying.

        “Is That Your Hand In My Pocket?” by Ron J. Lambert and Tom Parker has a great chapter on reading body language.

        • TNeal

          I admire your plan in developing a listening ear and your perseverance. Excellent strategy and example.

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        What? You have to listen?!?!

        I agree 100%. Withoutthis key ingredient, no relationship will work well.

    • http://markjmartin.com Mark Martin

      I can relate to this difficulty. Often, I fail to stop what I’m doing and listen, both to my wife and to other friends. For me, it has to do with being focused on the tasks I’m accomplishing more than the people.

      I appreciate how Michael Hyatt puts friendships on his priority list. I’m thinking this through for myself. If it’s a priority, then it gets put into the plan and happens.

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Yup! Things take time.

  • http://twitter.com/promobrain Mike Freestone

    My wife is my best friend and the suggested guidelines replicate what she does for me. But itis also perfect guidelines for how to relate to others. great post….hello to your daughter and hope you are enjoying your cruise.

  • Nrkmsfnp

    True friends are few. Many of us have associates but the true friend is one who you can call at any time and they are available. I agree with Michael’s advice on being the friend you would like to have. Too many times people are into a relationship for what they can get out of it. There must be deposits as well as withdraws.

    • Anonymous

      That whole idea of deposits and withdrawals is huge. I find this is true not only in friendship, but in marriage and especially in parenting.

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Yes! It should be give and take

  • http://www.walterwillis.net Walter

    Exactly the kind of friend Jesus is.

  • http://www.geekforhim.com Matthew

    I would say I struggle with this also, but do in part to who I am as a person. I have trust issues and also issues with maintaining a lot.

    It is sad and is something I struggle to maintain daily.

  • Anonymous

    What I appreciate most about this post is the point that deep, meaningful friendships don’t happen by accident. It is critical to be intentional about cultivating them, just as we need to be intentional about developing other areas of our lives.

    • TNeal

      I shared the story about my friend Greg being the one to pick up my wife and bring her to the hospital. He, another friend, and I have done two things intentionally for the ten years we’ve known each other. We’ve met weekly for a meal, conversation about our lives, and prayer. The place and the time has varied but the routine has remained pretty much intact.

      The second thing we’ve done is plan an annual baseball trip (already been talking that up for weeks now). The trip is as much about time in the car and deeper conversation as it is seeing a baseball game.

      The depth of our relationship has taken both intentionality and time.

      • Anonymous

        What a great example of how this works itself out practically. Thank you for sharing.

      • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

        Intentionality and time….. What a great lesson.

        • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

          Thanks, Uma, for your comments. Both this one and others you have made. Your words encourage. And these are timely reminders of some good thoughts and past conversations.–Tom

  • Brian Zehr

    This is a great post. The only thing I would add to it is the need for friends to speak truth to me. Sometimes I need a mirror held up to me in order for me to see things that I may be doing or ways that I may be thinking that are unhealthy or wrong. Many Pastors or Leaders don’t have close friends because most people seem to tell them what they think is appropriate or what the leader wants to hear.

    • Anonymous

      Brian, excellent point. We all need to make sure we have people who aren’t just “yes” people in our lives. As comfortable as it can feel to know you don’t have to hear the hard stuff, it can also be empty and lonely. Deep down, we all want to be known, warts and all.

    • Joe Lalonde

      Brian, that’s a good point to add. I think most people don’t like to think of that point. It’s hard to hear the truth because truth can hurt.

    • http://joeandancy.com Joe Abraham

      How true!

  • http://twitter.com/MariePulliam Marie Pulliam

    I am so fortunate to have made dear friends everywhere I have lived and worked. Your list says it all, but I’ll add one more: a true friend brings out your best qualities and magnifies them. An hour or so spent with a good friend changes my entire outlook. Thank you for bringing up the subject. It is a good reminder to cherish and nurture our friendships.

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  • http://profiles.google.com/cdanielthompson Daniel Thompson

    If that number is true, I find myself incredibly blessed. Also, why is the picture of women? LOL

    • http://mirrorsandwindowsnow.blogspot.com/ Alicha

      I thought the same thing ;) Just poking fun!

      • http://profiles.google.com/cdanielthompson Daniel Thompson

        Yeah! Women are already buddy, buddy! ;)

  • http://twitter.com/BrettVaden Brett Vaden

    About a year ago, I had one last coffee with a friend who was about to move several states away. It was a last “heart-t0-heart” before he left. We spoke about our friendship. What he said about it has repeatedly been on my mind ever since. He said, “You know, Brett, I feel like you’ve held back in our friendship. I wish we could have gone deeper.”
    After that talk, I made a commitment to become an intentional friend–one who pursues others.
    Thanks for the reminder, Michael.

    • http://joeandancy.com Joe Abraham

      That’s a moving testimony. Keep on…

      • http://twitter.com/BrettVaden Brett Vaden

        Thank you, Joe. I will, Lord help me.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FJRLITL5IEFHDDFURAESLXOOZ4 Jim Whitaker

    As a bi-vocational minister, I knew more than ever that I needed some close friendships that I could count on as confidants to help me as I grow and try to be a better worker and minister. Due to that I have built four things into my life.

    1. The Board of Jim
    2. Peer Groups
    3. Peer Coaching
    4. Close friendships

    These items have helped me to stay focus, grounded, and not cross any boundaries that can sometimes happens when you are a minister. The Board of Jim is a group of people that I meet with like a company meets with to help keep it running correctly, provide feedback (honest) and discuss life plans. This includes people in ministry and the business world. I meet with them regularly to update them on my successes and failures and to discuss plans. They provide feedback and help and guidance in an non-threatening but open, honest and transparent way. I have two regular peer groups that I meet with about once a month. Usually the meetings are only about an hour. Once is for work and one is for ministry. Each group meets and we usually discuss a chapter of an agreed upon book and then we discuss how we can use this information in our work (professional or ministerial) and some of the issues we are coming up against and how we are working through them. I also do peer coaching. This is based on a Christian approach to peer coaching and I meet with a peer from church about one a week, but sometimes every other week. We work through “Holiness Questions” such as “What did God speak to you in your time in the Word this week?” or “What do you need to celebrate this week?” Then we move into some specific project goal that we are working on and we talk about it and work through any issues, roadblocks or successes to celebrate. Finally I have developed 5 key friendship in my life. 4 are close friends in proximity and one is not. These are the folks I can talk to at any given time and any problems I have and can count on them to listen. What all these relationships have in common is what you have listed as characteristics for how to be a close friend. I could count on all these people in a crisis. Some would show up in person, some would call and make their presence known. They listen without judging, but they do so in a manner that conveys grace, but reminds me of commitments and goals that I have set. They help me, affirm me, celebrate with me, cry with me, remember the important things in my live. But most importantly. We trust each other, we are transparent to each other and we open up to each other. Without these friends, I could not be who I am nor could I do what I do. I would add one last piece to this. If my marriage was not such that I could count my wife as a close friend, I do not think I would be able to make it either. The ability to be able to talk with my wife openly and without consequences about anything going on in my life is a God send.

    • Anonymous

      Jim, I love how you’ve been so intentional. I bet you are reaping the rewards!

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FJRLITL5IEFHDDFURAESLXOOZ4 Jim Whitaker

        Meg,

        Thank you for your kind words. It is greatly appreciated.

        Thanks Jim

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      That’s a great inspiration Jim! Thanks for communicating with us.

  • http://mirrorsandwindowsnow.blogspot.com/ Alicha

    My brother’s wife, my sister-in-law, is one of my closest friends. She IS this list. I am so thankful for her in my life and our family. She is a great listener and affirmer and is naturally a positive person!
    Have a great time on vacation!

  • TNeal

    I’ve been blessed over the years to have good, close friends. When I say “close,” I mean both in physical and emotional proximity. When my son was in a near-fatal accident, I received the initial call and heard, “You need to hurry to the hospital.” My wife was at work and, honestly, I experienced brain freeze. I didn’t even know how to contact her. Instead I hit speed dial for a friend who thankfully went to pick her up at work while I headed straight for the hospital. Greg’s presence meant Ellen arrived safely. She, as was I, was quite shaken by the news. Thankfully our son suffered a concussion and nothing more.

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      That’s a great testimony TNeal

  • Karl Mealor

    I’m so thankful for the friends God has brought into my life.

  • http://twitter.com/kpalmer71 Kerry Palmer

    Thanks for this wonderful reminder. I need to remember to invest in people. The potential returns are awesome!

    • http://joeandancy.com Joe Abraham

      That’s true! True relationships matter.

  • http://mirrorsandwindowsnow.blogspot.com/ Alicha

    Opps, one more comment ;) I would add that good friends let you evolve, even anticipate growth…don’t hold you to what you once were 15 years ago. That’s a mistake easy to make.

  • http://www.irunurun.com Travis Dommert

    As for “Why this is true”…I think it goes beyond not valuing friendships. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that there are a lot of lonely leaders who are actually TRYING TO MAKE FRIENDS.

    Leaders are in some ways set up to be lonely due to their heightened visibility, responsibility, and influence…which can intimidate people. They are also subject to the interests of social status climbers.

    To make genuine friendships, they must show humility, vulnerability, authenticity, and a genuine interest in others…characteristics of level 5 leaders, but quite rare characteristics nonetheless.

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      You make an excellent point on leadership, Travis. Thank you

  • http://www.cathrynhasek.com Cathryn Hasek

    A true friend is someone who doesn’t just write down prayer requests when told, they actually follow through and pray for that person and their need. Intercessary prayer is vital…however, you can’t pray if the request is only written down on paper and not written on your heart!

    • Anonymous

      This is so important. Thank you for the sharing.

  • http://joeandancy.com Joe Abraham

    I really agree with you. Your title sums it up well: BE THE FRIEND YOU WISH YOU HAD!
    But I have a question: What about those who ENJOY all these that we do for them and they don’t do a thing in return? How should we relate with such folks?

    • Anonymous

      Joe, that’s a tough one. This is a situation I think most of us have been in. I think it’s important to try to identify people who, like you, are committed to “being the friend they wish they had.” I’m not sure investing in one-sided relationships is a good place to put your energy when looking for meaningful friendships.

      • http://joeandancy.com Joe Abraham

        Exactly. True friendships produce growth. Otherwise it isn’t friendship! Thanks Megh.

    • TNeal

      Joe, when I read your comment, a recent insight returned from last week. I meet with two pastor friends and typically I’m the one taking the initiative and calling them to set up the place and the time (breakfast or lunch at…).

      Speaking in love language terms, my language is quality time so I value their presence in my life a lot. But the other two speak in words of affirmation (one) and acts of service (the other). Knowing that helps me recognize my role in our friendships and not be disheartened if I always take the lead (which after ten years isn’t always the case but still remains our prevalent means of interaction).

      Again, that insight took place last week after ten plus years of enjoying these guys’ friendship.

      • http://joeandancy.com Joe Abraham

        That’s a good point: understanding others’ love language and relating accordingly. Thank you.

  • http://twitter.com/doughibbard Doug Hibbard

    Good points—as a pastor I can relate to that 70% number, and would really expect it to be higher. I think this comes back to an earlier post of yours: make time for yourself. Too many of us run around to have a finger on everything happening at our churches that we never take the time to make a friend or two. Then, we call it ‘service’ and ‘sacrifice’ when it’s really self-destructive isolation.

    Although from a personal view, it’s interesting to discover how many pastors are, like me, very much introverts. It’s just part of who we are and how we have to grow ourselves for interaction.

    • Anonymous

      Doug…wow, over-spiritualizing the isolation piece, like you said, combined with being an introvert can be deadly for your heart. I think self-awareness and a commitment do be intentional about developing relationships is key. Thanks for your honesty.

    • http://joeandancy.com Joe Abraham

      I like what you said about introverts. Yes, God wired us with different personality types and He is there to help us find right relationships.

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Introverts and friendship… That’s very amazing

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  • http://www.dailyreflectionsforsingleparents.blogspot.com/ Scoti Springfield Domeij

    When I was a pastor’s wife, I did lunch with the wife of a famous author/speaker/pastor. She shared details about her relationship with her best friend in the congregation. Her friend knew that if a wikileak occurred in the congregation she was the only source. That afternoon I called an acquaintance and said, “Hi! Would you be my BFF? Here are the rules. Will you meet with me one hour a week and keep everything I tell you in confidence?” She said, “Yes, I’ve always been committed to you as a friend.” She took our weekly meet up one step further and asked Anne Ortlund to disciple us. When propelled into single-parenthood, my BFF was the only person from ministry days who called me periodically to ask, “How are you?” Over the years and separated by 100’s of miles, we’ve stayed connected and supported each other through all our tough life circumstances. When I felt like a shadow and discarded by my church “home” in response to my single-mom status, my friend was/is/will be my “underground church.”

  • Joe Lalonde

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I’m a big believer in having a community of people you can turn to. I believe it’s biblical. However, I’ve realized I don’t have a lot of close friendships. I struggle to find people whom I can count on or want to count on.

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      I’m in the same boat. I’m lucky that I have 3-4. Wish I had a few more.

      • Joe Lalonde

        Jeff, I think I’d be happy with even 3-4. It’s weird because I know I have people that I can count on to be there. The problem is that we just don’t get together and hang out. It makes one feel lonely a lot of the time.

        • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

          Joe, it’s taken 20 years in ministry to get to 3-4. And the closest of them live 3 hours away. We’re new in our current town, we’ve been here about 2 years. I completely understand your lonliness.

  • http://refreshmentrefuge.blogspot.com Gina Burgess

    Michael, this is so extraordinary! I just wrote a column published yesterday on “8 Godly Traits Of A Good Friend” http://www.liveasif.org/view.cgi?article=6729 Great minds and all that :)

  • Lynn

    I remember my Mom telling me, “to have a friend, you have to be a friend”. She told me that when I was in HS, so I must have been crying to her that I didn’t have any close friends even back then. You know what is sad… I have to be intentional and it takes effort to BE a friend. And to be perfectly honest, sometimes I just don’t want to put out the effort. When I need a friend, I sure wish I had I had one, but … And I have friends, co-workers, and acquaintances that are there for me in a crisis, but I do not have a deep connection with a long term friend. God has brought this to my attention more than once, and I have closer friends than I have had in the past. I need accountability with a close, faithful friend. This blog is affirmation to me that God wants me to stop thinking about what I should do, and start doing something!

    • Anonymous

      Lynn, thank you for being so candid. You’re right; it does take a lot of effort, but the return is so worth the investment. Blessings as you step out in faith in this way.

  • Anonymous

    This is awesome insight.

    Just this morning my wife and I were talking about some missed opportunities when we lived there in middle Tennessee that seem to be working out with the guy who followed me at the church there in Franklin. As much as that bothered us, I had to admit. The fellow there now is much more relationally oriented than I am. It isn’t that people love him more or me less. We’re just different.

    I’m glad to read this today because it ties in with what I figured out this morning. If I want deeper relationships, I have to work harder on relationships, instead of expecting everyone else to work hard on relationships with me.

    Thanks for the reminder.

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Agreed Edwin! Great Thoughts

  • Forrest Long

    Thanks for a very revealing post. I’ve been in pastoral ministry for thirty years and the only close friend I’ve had over those years was another pastor. We became good friends the first year I entered ministry and we stayed close with almost daily contact until he died last year. I’ve had friends over the years in different churches, but none real close. And now I find myself in a place where I have no close friends and I need at least one. Your suggestions are good. The ministry can be a very lonely place.

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Ministry can be at times a lonely place. I concur with you Forrest.

  • Charlie

    I think one thing that comes into play is the perceived understanding that a pastor is a temporary employee. It might be a long-term temp situation but none the less that idea is in the back of the minds of church members. The pastor is viewed as a hireling with no roots in the community and church people have the feeling (and it has been communicated in this way to me), “Preacher, we’ll still be here long after you’re gone.”

    Besides friendships, this probably impacts the ability of a pastor to really have a long term impact in his field. I just spent 6 years in a ministry in NC and have no close relationships to show for it in spite of doing the things suggested in the blog. When the budget got tight, I was released. It was easy for them because they never invested themselves in my life or my family’s life.

    • TNeal

      I had a long-time (20+ years) church secretary at the first church I served in Texas. Small town in the middle of nowhere. She commented she felt like a guest, often unwelcome, in the community. She and her husband moved within a short time time of his retirement.

      This is a reality within the church and within small communities. I experienced the same thing in my last church. When I talked about two or three years down the line, I noticed one person’s face respond with a look that said, “Two or three years? I can only deal with you for a year at a time.”

      My wife and I remain in the community but I no longer serve as a pastor here. My strongest friendships are outside of my former church or even the present congregation where we attend services.

  • http://bentune.blogspot.com/ Ben Tune

    I have a pastor friend who once confided that it is difficult to develop friendships because he feels like he always has to be “on” because he’s a pastor. He said this was especially true around church members, the very people who should be his closest friends. I wonder if this is true for CEO’s and other upper level leaders.

    Since he confided that in me, I have made it a point to support and encourage the pastors in my life. I may not be Moses, but I can be like Aaron or Hur helping him hold his arms up.

    • TNeal

      Having served as a pastor in the past, I recognize the difficulty of maintaining friendships within the congregation. The best friendships for a pastor typically are formed outside his/her own congregation.

      The gift you offer, Ben, is a blessing for a pastor if the gift is received. Don’t be surprised though if you experience reluctance or caution on the part of a pastor.

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      That’s great Ben!

  • http://musicroad.blogspot.com kerrydexter

    I would be interested to hear thoughts on maintaining and nurturing close friendships when one is at physical distance from one’s friends. many of the same ideas apply as stated in the post, but putting them in to practice may need creative approaches. I am thinking.

    • Anonymous

      That’s a great idea. I’ve struggled with this myself as I’ve moved or otherwise lost touch with friends. This has me thinking about helpful strategies too.

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Ya! It needs to intentional and conscious

  • http://lovedoesntletgo.blogspot.com Israel Sanchez

    Amen and amen. I know that I need to be that kind of friend. Thanks for the sobering reminder.

  • http://profiles.google.com/professorwiseguy Mark Browning

    Well stated. Oddly enough, my 16-year-old son posted the basic gist of this on his Facebook yesterday. You developed the idea considerably better than he did.

  • http://cynthiaherron.wordpress.com Cynthia Herron

    Your “pearls of wisdom” are so true! I think even Christians are afraid to put ourselves “out there” from time to time because of fear of rejection. All of the traits you mentioned that you desired in a friend, I believe, are intrinsic to all of us as human beings, as well. The concepts are simple. It’s US who make them difficult.

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      That self realization is very dificult in many instances.

  • Jdaley33

    Very nice post, thank you for the insight!

  • http://www.livewithflair.blogspot.com Live with Flair

    I want to be a friend that knows how to cultivate the true self. I know this sounds weird, but it’s like being a vernal pond in your friend’s life: http://livewithflair.blogspot.com/2011/04/you-cant-touch-this.html

    • TNeal

      Vernal? I had to look that one up. An excellent word and an exemplary word picture. Thanks–the ever vernal Tom

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Thanks for sharing the post. I liked the thoughts from the post. “Untouched by predators, not threatened by what devours, we have a season to thrive. ” – That’s so good.

  • http://dustinstout.com Dustin W. Stout

    Very true Michael. I think I would add one thing to the list of traits-

    “A good friend will tell you when you have something in your nose…”

    That’s one of the things I talk about in my about section for my readers. I think it’s a key trait because someone who won’t look out for your best interests, even when you aren’t, isnt really a friend.

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Dustin! It’s true friendship.

  • http://wowgu.ru Marazm

    Church is certainly a great place to develop relationships with like-minded people.
    We have things in common, we’re working towards a common goal (for the most part), but we don’t really know anything about each other other than basic demographics.

    • Anonymous

      That can certainly be true. I think the key is to take it beyond coffee and donuts and into real life. We have to develop true community with one another. Frequently seeing our “friends” from church does not mean we really know each other. It’s about going deeper.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com/ Steve Martin

    I f you have even one close friend, I think you are very fortunate.

    If you have more than that, you are truly blessed.

  • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

    I wish I had friends who paid me a full-time salary. Lacking one, alas, I can’t be the kind of friend I’d want to have, either.

  • http://www.churchformen.com David Murrow

    Why is there an image of a daughter-mother-grandmother with this post?

  • Tim Watkins

    Michael,
    This is very true and includes great advice. Eventhough I have many close friends, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post and will apply it principles more in my life. Thanks for sharing from your heart.

  • Brent Trickett

    Thanks for this reminder Michael. I have found that because I am in ministry it is hard for people I know to relax and be themselves. As I look back at my early years of ministry I realize that I often try to make it look like I have it all together. It wasn’t until I started being honest with the people around me about what was really going on in my life that they started doing the same. Now I have a great group of friends that I can just hang with and be myself.

    • Anonymous

      Brent, great point. I like what you said about how your vulnerability made it safe for your friends to share themselves as well. Excellent reminder.

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Go on Brent

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    Excellent post. There is so much truth here. I’ve found that in ministry, it is extremely difficult to develop very close friendships. I’ve got 3-4 guys that know me well. It’s enough.

  • Chaplain Bill

    While I have not been a pastor for nearly 17 years, I am still employed as a minister. I can say the majority of those I consider to be close friends are not in a position of ministry. I have found it to be easier to be vulnerable with those who are not in full=time ministry. I think the reason is I never wanted to be perceived as an emotional or spiritual weakling.

    • Anonymous

      Bill, I bet that is more common than you know. Thanks for bringing the heart of the struggle to light.

  • http://ichrch.com iCHRCH (Rich Langton)

    I love this post as it really focuses on an area I am quite passionate about. I always encourage my blog community to “find their people”, those friends that will do exactly the things indicated in this post, that we all should be doing if we are to be good friends. So many folks want others to love on them, but they’re not willing to do so the same for others!!

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Weird yet true Rich

  • http://www.powerofthought.org Nuruddin Abjani

    Michael, THANKS!

    You are making a difference in people’s lives, INCLUDING MINE!

    God bless you…

    Nuruddin

  • Anonymous

    There have been times I have wondered if I was giving too much in some friendships, but I have come to realize that I never give too much if I give what I would want to be given in the same situation. Because of this I have a few very close friends that I could call at any time of day, and have for that fact. Thank you for this post.

  • http://www.walkwiththewise.wordpress.com Gail

    I agree that it is lonely at the top. At least in the corporate world you can have church and outside work friends. For pastors they may not know too many people outside church – which is their work, church and social life all in one.

    I think part of the problem is that leaders tend to have the strong, choleric personality types that aren’t the most friend attracting type of people.

    I also know, from experience, that sometimes being the friend you want isn’t a guarentee of getting close friends. I have prayed many times in my life for God to give me best friends. And He has, many times. Sometimes there has been a time in between friends who have left due to moving or life changes but they have always been replaced. I am very blessed now to see my best friends at work every day :)

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      When you say that “leaders tend to have the strong, choleric personality types that aren’t the most friend attracting type of people”, I too can relate that in mycurrent situation. Thanks for sharing Gail

  • G. Kevin Turner

    Thank for the helpful article. However, a significant and biblical quality of a friend has been omitted. The scripture informs us that, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”(KJV) The NIV renders this verse, “The wounds from a friend can be trusted but an enemy multiplies kisses.” Proverb 27:6

    Thank God for the tender mercies of someone who stays with you through all of life challenges and all of our sinful choices. I, for one, hunger for words of encouragement from those who know you best, particularly. Yet I know, that strong words of loving chastisement are the biblical charge. though not the exclusive quality of the true friend.

    Your brother in the Messiah,

    G. Kevin Turner

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  • Jcanepa

    I had a friend. I use the word had, because we got into an argument over who is right and wrong. It was my husbands BDay yesterday, and I told her and her BF about it about 3 times. When I make plans, I put it in my calendar. I follow through. They didn’t show or call, and were angry at me for not reminding them again. To me, I don’t think you should have to remind friends about important events in your life more than a couple times.

  • Oodihi

    I had a conversation about this with my sister last week. We are both in a transitional stage in our lives where we are out of college and in the “real world”. We are finding it takes a lot to make friends when they are not supplied to you by campus organizations/clubs. It takes real effort to BE the friend you want to have but I think intentionality is the key. Scheduling time to connect with people you meet and having the boldness to make the first approach is key. People generally respond in kind.

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Wish you a great future and Godly connections.

  • http://twitter.com/jamespinnick7 James Pinnick

    Friends that I have are loving, undersating, and know when to back off when the time is needed. I am a widower.
    They love me the way I am, even with unverving grief sometimes.

    Thanks for the post!
    James-

    Author-The Last Seven Pages
    http://www.jamespinnick.com

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Genuine frienship is all about that.

  • Hillbruce

    I read some of the comments, and sadly, many people are expressing the same thing. Church people don’t really connect on an intimate level. How sad is that? As a congregation, we are connected in the most sacred way—as spiritual brothers and sisters. They should be the folks we are MOST connected with…not the people in the world. We talk about fellowship meals and fellowship time and fellowship circles….but…ask yourself–Are we really having true koinonia, true FELLOWSHIP as a body of believers, if we don’t really KNOW one another?

  • Kym

    Wow! Great post!

    I had a similar experience about 20 years ago. One day I realized that they were all acquaintanceships, some very intense, some very casual, but all just acquaintanceships.

    So I prayed and asked God to bless me with true friends that would stay in my life – regardless of our geography. I wanted friends that valued and believed similar things.

    One of the things He showed me was that I was doing lots of ministering, even a good bit of enabling, and that I wasn’t truly being a FRIEND. He also showed me that I needed to LET others befriend me. As long as I wanted to play mom, rescuer, etc, I was blocking potential friendships.

    Thanks, God, for showing me the way and blessing me with so many fabulous friendships that stand the test of time, distance, career changes, etc. Thanks, Michael, for spreading the word!

    Peace for a great vacation!

    Kym

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  • http://www.fivefriendsmovie.com Ken Stewart

    Thank you so much for this post. My partners and I just returned last week from two screenings of our documentary on male friendships. (www.fivefriendsmovie.com) We were so encouraged by the discussions that followed our screenings from the men that attended. There was a deep desire to pursue intimacy in their friendships…and more importantly, what does real intimacy look like in the context of friendship? What was even more amazing is that we screened the film to two VERY diverse audiences (an academic group that focuses on gender studies and an evangelical, mid-west men’s group from a church) and the responses were equally honest.

    I hope that we (especially as men) continue to ask about friendship and the role that it should play in our lives. I believe that our lives are greatly enriched when we open ourselves up to ‘real’ friendship.

    My best!
    Ken Stewart

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  • http://www.facebook.com/monique.charles2 Monique Charles

    very interesting comments  i will like to be a true friend because i am a pastor wife

  • http://www.facebook.com/monique.charles2 Monique Charles

    yes a true friend will always stay by your side no matter what.
    As long as christ is in it , it will last,just remember what you give out you will get back.

  • czmorgan

    Wish that worked. Just get used, time and time again.

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  • Alfred Njobvu

    Am Pastor  from Malawi Central Africa,I was a muslim but God called me in 1998.I went to Bible School in 2003-2006 where i got my Diplom in Theology.I planted a church in 2010 and the church is growing step by step.Thank God for this connection to God be Grory.I need friends who can stand with me and help me in the minisrty with defferent resources to make the work of  God grow. 
    Yours faithfully, Alfred Njobvu  -  alfrednjobvu@yahoo.com