Saturday, August 20, 2005

Quest for friends

I just returned from a lovely evening with people whom I desperately wish I could call friends. We had dinner, played with their boys, my baby boy ate and slept, we played a game after the kids went to bed, had dessert. We're all about the same age, share similar values and views of life. We laugh at each other's jokes.
But when it comes down to it, I'm their pastor.
I feel really fortunate that they are aware enough that it *might* be weird for me, and that there are people in my congregation that I like well enough to even have this dilemma. They don't talk about church when we're together socially, and when we're at church, they don't bring up the fact that we were together socially. It's not as if we're "sneaking around" about our relationship, but they show some tact and understanding.
Finding and making friends is hard. Especially "couple friends" whom my husband and I like equally well. I like to think that it would be easier if we both weren't pastors, but I'm probably just fooling myself. If it were Lent, I'd add the discipline of being intentional about finding a new source for a friend. But it's not Lent. Maybe I should do that anyway.


Songbird said...

This is a hard one, especially since you are both pastors *and* you have a small child. I would just encourage you to find a clergy group of some kind; I'm both happy and sad to say that most of my friends now are clergy.

Purechristianithink said...

I've always had some friends in the congregations I've served. In some ways, it's easier with church friends because you know there will always be a boundary--that you will be friends but never, probably, intimate friends. That there will always be things you cannot discuss. You can't gossip about other folks in the congregation. You can't bitch about your salary. You'll be on your good behavior, mostly. What has tripped me up is non-church friends with whom I thought the pastor thing would be a total non issue, only to have them suddenly and unexpectedly say, "How can a pastor think/do/say that?" I'd say the only folks I'm completely open with are other clergy and high school/college friends.

Pink Shoes said...

Good points, all. We are lucky to have a few folks we consider friends and good clergy confidantes to whom we can bitch about all those congregation things that only clergy really seem to understand.

Kathryn said...

I've a couple of girl friends in the congregation here: asked my training vicar's advice early on, and he said "Go for it" so I have...They are very scrupulous about asking for "The Curate" if they want me to be their pastor, or just Kathryn if it's gin and good company. Thus far it seems to work; my old vicar would never make friends in her congregations,and was such a sad and lonely soul as a result, as we were in a rural benefice and she hated driving...but she also gave me a good piece of advice about cherishing any non Christian, non Church friends, who stop you from taking yourself too seriously!

Larry Teabag said...

Is there a bit in the Bible about not being friends with members of your congregation?

I'm sure doctors, lawyers, counsellors, etc. have similar problems - it may require tact, but you should still be able to be friends.

Otherwise why not befriend some atheists/muslims/buddhists/satanists?

Songbird said...

I think this may also vary a bit in a congregation with more than one clergyperson. The parishioner who becomes friends with you still has a pastor available. A clergy friend of mine handled this with same-age church members by saying, "Wow, this has become an important friendship to me. It would be very hard for me to be your pastor now, so I hope you will turn to Rev. Sr. Pastor if you have a need in that area."
My long-term predecessor served for 25 years and although he left seven years before I came, he is still socializing with members of my small congregation. I find that sad, and possibly unethical, although Lord knows they always mention it to me when they have seen him. It's made me very clear that these folks are not my friends and although when I leave there someday I will miss them, I will drop the ties, to show them it can be done.
Okay, now I'm sad. :-(