We are better alone with God when our lives are not only lived alone with God. We need friends who refuse to carry the luggage of their own personal preferences into the conversations. We need friends. True friends. Faithful, trustworthy, caring, honest, committed, dedicated, transparent friends.
Too many pastors and their families live in isolation. Too many live lonely and alone. Too many live with shallow, temporary relationships. Too many live controlled by pains of past relationships; they risk no more. Too many live supervised by their own schedules; they invest no time.
All people need people. All people need community and authenticity. All people need eyes to look back at them while minds pay attention and ears truly hear. All people need more than shallow, superficial, surface relationships. All people need more than gossip-centered, favor-centered, self-centered relationships. All people need true friends.
But how? How can genuine, deep friendships be created and designed? Especially among those who have been taught to not trust, those whose lives depend upon church success, those who carry the deep wounds of past betrayals.
How? Time. Time together. Much time together. And conversations. And prayers. And prioritizing building the relationships.
Choosing. Choosing to see this as essential. Refusing. Refusing to let anything else steal it away. And preparing for such a community of a few deep friendships by not basing existence upon such relationships. Loving solitude enough to prepare ourselves for the adventure of those relationships.
I’m honored and humbled to know of relationships many decades deep. They might have appeared surprisingly, but they remained alive by intentionality. They grew by prioritizing time together. I recall the prayers and walks and meals and laughter. I remember the pain and the tears. I reflect on how waiting alone turned into waiting together.
Friends to critique my sermons. Friends to ask me if I’m living what I preach. Friends to ask about my weaknesses and addictions and inner wars. Friends to laugh with me and play basketball with me and do nothing with me.
Those conversations. Those confrontations. Those dares. Those words of encouragement. They did not just happen. We worked to be sure they happened.