I was thinking about posting to Facebook the pastor appreciation lunch coming up at our church. My wife and I have been there for two years so not only is October pastor appreciation month but it also corresponds to our service anniversary. It’s an exaggeration to say that “all my friends are church pastors” but many of them are. It makes sense to form working relationships that often turn into friendship with people in the same line of work. No matter what vocation one is in, other guys doing the same job will automatically have a lot in common. And the friends I have that are not pastors are church people; they teach Sunday School, serve as deacons, work in the sound and projection booth, etc.
I have very few close, personal friends that are not involved with church in some way. Which makes sense if you think about it. I have been in church my whole life. And now as a pastor I don’t have “work buddies” that I can invite to church. People with no interest in church are probably not interested in hanging out with a pastor either; he would be a total bore at parties and probably keep inviting them to church things. I’m 20 years out of high school and while I see many old friends on Facebook they’re spread out all over the country. I have a small group that I still see from time to time; and most of the ones I still talk to have a home church they are active in.
This is what I have always wanted to do. You get really close to your church family and I’m fortunate to get a lot of support (and not an inbox full of complaints on Monday morning). I have known pastors with several members of their family also in the church family, but I don’t have that right now. When I was a kid I imagined the pastor was the most important as well the most popular guy in the room. That’s a facade that fades quickly after the church service is over. I now understand what pastors have tried to tell me before about being lonely. Several years ago I was ordained as a deacon. My parents drove in from out of town and the church was having a dinner in the fellowship hall afterwards. My family sort of formed our own table while other families and clicks sorted themselves out. The pastor of the church asked if he could sit with us. And 15 years ago I thought that was weird. I figured everybody there would want to sit at the pastor’s table. But each family or group of church friends sort of did there own thing and if he hadn’t sat with us he might very well have eaten alone.
I have a lot of pastor friends and I am thankful for that. I have a supportive church family and a committed group of deacons and I realize not every pastor has that luxury. I am happy to have my wife of 19 years basically serving with me – she prints the bulletin and leads singing – but realize she is in a similar awkward position. Outside of the WMU she has a few friends that are either far away in other cities and states or else belong to other churches in the area. Thankfully Facebook and Twitter make the world a smaller place. I can keep up with old friends no matter where they go and network with church planters, missionaries, pastors and SBC/Lifeway folks who are also “in the business.” Someday we will all sit down together at a great feast… it just probably won’t be the pastor appreciation lunch coming up at Unity Baptist.
Peace and God bless.