Other than your wife, if married, who’s your closest friend? Some of you might admit that your wife is your only true friend. She knows you better than anyone else. She’s your soul mate. You can pour your heart out to her at the end of a long day. She provides a safe place in which you can vent and share your frustrations. Believe me; I understand the value of this! For nearly 30 years, I’ve enjoyed and benefited greatly from this type of ongoing relationship with my wife.
However, can one expect his wife to be his only close friend in life and ministry? Is this even healthy for you or her? One pastor admitted he practiced this for years in his ministry. Eventually, his wife shut down, because she didn’t have the emotional energy to listen anymore. This pastor then looked outside his marriage to another woman who met this need. This led to an adulterous affair and an all too familiar storyline.
I encourage you, as a man, to seek meaningful relationships with a few other men. Women, do the same with other women. Lock arms and hearts with others who you can trust enough to ask you penetrating questions and expect honest answers in response. Questions about your relationship with the Father, your thoughts, your aspirations in ministry, your fears, your doubts, your failures and your successes. Without question, relationships of this nature take time to develop, but they’re worth the investment, aren’t they?
Some of you are experiencing the rich return on key relational investments you’ve made over the years. Others of you may feel relationally bankrupt. You’ve been betrayed. Even now, perhaps you’re feeling deep pain and confusion. It’ll take some time and healing before you’re able to invite others into your life again. I understand. I know what that’s like. Still, there are more than a few of you, who’ve never let anyone into your life. I can’t pretend to know all the reasons why. I do know, however, that authentic community with others is one of the primary ways God chooses to shape our hearts, though, we must avail ourselves to it.
As Reggie McNeal says, “Friends afford us the chance to hear the voice of God’s encouragement, feel the warmth of God’s embrace, experience the intensity of his listening, understand the wonder of his life by receiving the love of people who, though they know us, love us anyway” (A Work of Heart, 2000).
It’s people like this who want you to thrive and can help you do so!
Enjoy the journey!