What Every Pastor Needs: A Good Buddy

I tell pastors, “You need a good friend in the ministry. Someone who is a lot like you. Someone who may be going through the same things you are.”

You need a Jonathan for your David. One who has been where you are and knows what you are experiencing.

Oh, you say the Lord is that for you? That’s good. He should be this and a lot more. But I’m talking about someone in the flesh. It is not unspiritual or disloyal to want another human being as our best friend.

After all, there must be a reason the Lord sent His disciples out two by two.

I am not talking about:

a. an admirer. Someone who sees you as his role model.

b. a worshiper. One who thinks you hung the moon, who stands in awe of your godliness, who cannot see your humanity.

c. a critic. One who feels called to straighten you out and correct your errors.

d. a father. One who lords it over you, pulls rank, keeps reminding you of your inexperience.

e. a church member who sits in the pews and looks to you for leadership and guidance on Sundays.

I’m talking about a brother. You need a brother. One you can play ball with or attend a game with. One you can hunt and fish or golf with. One you can laugh or cry with. One with whom you can share a stupid joke or your deepest hurt. One who knows you and likes you, who genuinely cares for you and understands. One who is pleased by your victories and hurts for your failures.

There is an old saying that “a friend is like another you.”

Maybe you’ve heard that “a friend is someone you could call at 3 o’clock in the morning and ask him to help you bury the body and he would, with no questions asked.” I used to quote that until it actually happened in Houston a couple of years back. The lady who hit the vagrant on the side of the highway was stoned at the time. When his battered body lodged in her windshield, she drove home and parked inside her garage and left him hanging there, bleeding. After he died, she called her friends and they disposed of the body. Later, it came out and they all went to jail.

A true friend would have confronted her for her misdeeds and made her go to the police. A wonderful proverb states, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.” (Proverb 27:6)

I love the humorous line that goes, “A friend is God’s apology for your relatives.”

My friend Chet Griffin was a zillion friends made through a long career in the Air Force. He and his wife Eva Lee are now retired and living in the Washington, D.C., area, but friends from all over the world visit them. Chet carries in his car a computer notebook filled with all their friends–I mean all of them!–names, addresses, phones, e-mail addresses. They love every one of them and are loved in return, and keep in touch with every one of these friends.

Even though Chet made full colonel in the military, when his high school class from tiny Rolling Fork, Mississippi, has its reunion, it’s Chet who contacts everyone and gets them there. (That he was class president all four years of their high school ought to say something of what his friends think of him.)

Even though Chet has tons of friends, I know for a fact that he has only two or three “buddies.” These are people who served alongside him in Viet Nam as fellow fighter pilots, and who have walked with each other through some of life’s darkest valleys and emerged on the other side forever bonded. They share with each other on a level no one else is permitted into.

You don’t find such “buddies” through a want ad or mating service. God gives you those.

Ask Him. He is the One responsible for your needing a best friend in the first place. If I know anything about how He works, He has someone out there like this for you. Ask Him. Then start watching.

3 thoughts on “What Every Pastor Needs: A Good Buddy

  1. Joe:

    You’re so right. If we would only see that a “true friend is a gift from God”. I still correspond with a childhood friend whom I have not seen since he came to my dad’s funeral in 1989, and whom I really haven’t been around since high school. But, he is the guy that I would want standing at my back if I ever needed someone. Just like Jesus, He is my friend and He has never failed me, though I have have been on that same walk that Chet has.


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