Monday, February 28, 2011

Day 237: Friends Change

A friend from my online ministry asked me this…

"I have an issue I would like to hear you opinion on. Since you are talking about pastors on your blog and what they experience, and such. This is an issue I have experienced in the Christian college I attend, as well as others I have talked to.

The concept of what I call "I will be your friend, just do not be my friend". What I have noticed is many Christians will "befriend" a person, with the intent of bringing them into their world. The moment the other tries to be independent, share something that is not of their world, they start to build the wall between them.

As a pastor have you come across this in anyway? If so what do you recommend?"

To answer the first question “have you come across this in anyway?” my answer is yes…in a few different ways. Let me explain. The first time I noticed this was during my days of schooling to become a pastor. I had quite a few friends that were in school at one place or another with all of us having the same desire…to become a youth pastor. As time progressed I saw a few drop out of the program and even more become more and more unlike themselves. Some of them took a change for the better but some became corporate players. I mean they dressed the part, looked the part, even knew what to say when. I found it funny because when they were by themselves or with just me and a few friends…they were a different person. I actually refused to go that path and really just tried to stay true to who I am. This resulted in me getting passed up for a few different things but that is the cost of staying yourself. If it means I am not going to please everyone or the ones that needed pleasing in order to gain a few notches…well, I was not that person.

When I became the head pastor, lead pastor, senior pastor (whatever you want to call it) I found this to be all the more true, especially with missionaries. During the days of youth pastoring you begin to develop some great friends. These are people that you can talk video games with, music ministry strategies, etc. Youth pastors end up doing quite a bit together between youth rallies, conventions, etc. What I have found to be true is that as they get older and see their path in life going another direction, they begin to become corporate players. Who they are begins to change and those that were once not all that likable are now trying their best to be liked. Those who were not social now are becoming social. Those who never wanted to hang out are now wanting to take you out to lunch. Why? Because they need support on the mission field. I recall talking to someone once missions, this person asked me what I am doing for home missions. What they were referring to basically is who I am writing a check to to support their ministry. I began to talk to them about “Church at the Pub” and a few other things we have going on. This person that was once a good friend of mine but now in a different position of “power” told me…”That is great but that is not supporting home missions so please keep your thoughts to yourself.” They wanted me to go with the flow which I am not to willing to do. I understand there are ministries worthy of support but the fact is…the church I pastor is a mission in and of itself. Sure, we will still assess our giving and support a few missions but overall we have work to do right here in, Waupaca. Another friend basically bailed on me because once we were good friends. Now that they are missionaries, we as a church of 80 people cannot do a whole lot, we were not able to support them and so dropped us as friends all together. They forget very quickly all the things I did for them by introducing them to people they may want to know…even giving up a paycheck so they could attend a conference in another country. This is the sad reality of people changing in ministry and building walls if you don’t line up with them.

The second question is “If so what do you recommend?” My answer would be not to stop talking to them. Sometimes friendships get downgraded to acquaintance. This does not mean you have to cut them off or even dislike them. Priorities change for people in life and so do their ideals and thoughts. Who someone once was does not mean who they will be for their whole life. I can think of many things that I have changed my view on, I just hope I have made more friends along the way than fewer.

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