By Chase Smith
When I was young, I attended a funeral for a man who was my dad’s friend. The man was very sick and died young, which made for a very somber occasion. He left behind a wife and two young kids we were friends with.
As I recall, this was my first funeral. I was an inquisitive kid asking questions about the service. One question was about the pallbearers: “Who were they?” “How were they selected?”
My dad patiently answered all my questions and then told me this, “Chase, you need to have as many close friends as you’ll need pallbearers one day.”
At the time, I was young and didn’t understand what he meant. However, now that I’m grown with kids of my own, I get it.
My dad was trying to tell me I need to make sure I have close friends. Not just acquaintances, but close friends who would drop everything and help if I’m in a bind.
A normal-sized person needs six pallbearers, but I’m a large man, so I need to find eight men to carry my body to its final resting place.
As a pastor, it’s not easy to find such friends. Sadly, pastors often feel they can’t befriend many of their church members. At other times, it may seem all the pastors in your area are either as busy as you are or their personality and yours don’t mix.
But the fact remains: We all need close friends. Here are three places you can find them.
1. Find some pastors in your area with whom you can connect.
They serve in the same area, know the general population, and know your plight.
I’ve played tennis and basketball with pastors. I’ve had coffee and lunch with pastors. I’ve found common interests with other pastors to bond over.
I found these friends through my involvement with my local association and local ministries within our area. In some cases, I’ve simply cold-called other pastors to make their acquaintance.
I need pastor friends, so I make a point to go out and find them.
2. Find friends in your community.
I have six kids, and they’re involved in different activities. As I’m with them at their various activities, I always try to befriend other dads.
I try to find Christian men who don’t go to my church. That way, I can just be a dad and not “Pastor Chase.”
3. Try to find friends inside your church.
I’m extremely blessed to have men at my church who recognize me as “pastor” but treat me like an average guy. They tease me relentlessly, but it’s out of brotherly affection, not spite or disrespect.
They respect my position and listen when I speak truth into their life or lead the church. They know I’m a man and don’t put me on a pedestal—a place where I don’t want to be.
My current situation is uncommon. Most pastors can’t say they have real friends they can be open with in their church. I’ve been there.
Being a pastor can be lonely. You need friends who allow you to be yourself. Friends with whom you can let your guard down. Friends you can be honest with. Friends you can have a bad day with knowing they’ll be there to extend grace.
Find friends like these who are pastors, find them in your community, and find them in your church.
CHASE SMITH (@ChaseMSmith) married Rebecca in 2005, and they have four beautiful kids. He serves as pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Farmersville, Texas, and is currently working on his doctorate from the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. This article originally ran on NAMB’s Replant Blog.