The dynamic of friendship in the context of ministry is complex.
Everyone wants the pastor to be their friend. But very few are willing to actually be a friend to the pastor.
I learned this the hard way.
For most people, pastor is a role (not really a person) performing a role. When you no longer fulfill that role, you are no longer needed/valuable, etc.
The Bible describes authentic friendship this way (Proverbs 17:17) :
A friend loves at all times,
and a brother is born for adversity.
Some people really proved to be real friends, loving me and standing with me through the past year. In crisis, you quickly learn who your real friends are — and sometimes it is surprising.
I am still trying to figure out if this is an inevitable consequence of being a pastor/leader, or if there is a way to create more real, mutual friendships within the context of ministry.
I don’t have the answer to that question yet…