A true godly friend shows you more of yourself than you could discover on your own. Pastors need these kind of friends. Jesus is the greatest friend who, through His Spirit, reveals and illuminates our souls to its true reality; be it comforting or convicting. He, however, is not the only friend we need as shepherds of the flock of God among us. We need friends who hold mirrors to our naked soul. These are men that, with a hand on the shoulder and a finger to the soul, point out the good, bad, and ugly in our lives. In his book, The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis commented on the nature of this kind of friendship he wrote, “In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to shall all his facets.” Pastor, do you have those kind of lights shining into your facets? Lewis emphasizes that to love is to be vulnerable, there is no other way. He captures the essence of this in his book, The Four Loves. He writes,
There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possible broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, and irredeemable.”
The safest, least satisfying, and least effective way of living and leading is indifference to God and others. Our enemy’s goal is get Pastors isolated and with a growing indifference toward the church of Christ and to the lost of the community he serves. We must love each other deeply brothers to counter this unholy strategy of the devil.
The dynamic of intimate friendship and its effect on the health of two souls is captured well with the “Johardi window” principle. In his book, 6 Relationships Every Pastor Needs, Jimmy Dodd summarizes the “Johardi Window” principles and application. The window addresses our fundamental need for friendship in the context of information that is known and unknown within a friendship. The four windowed diagram is below.
A brief description of the windows are as follows:
- Open—The information is known to both of us, it is open, public information.
- Hidden—The information is known only to me and not to you, it is private and in some cases a secret.
- Unconscious— The information is known neither by you nor by me, it is unknown.
- Blind—The information is known by you but not me, it is my blind spot.
There are three areas of concern that emerge from the information from the diagram. First, relationships that do not move beyond the “Open” stage will not truly appreciate the depth and joy of real friendship. These are exclusively surface oriented relationships. Second, pastors have blind-spots and they need friends to help them gradually, lovingly, and constructively see those spots. Third, godly Spirit-led friendships can reveal sinful or foolish character qualities such as unfruitful thought processes or destructive behavioral patterns that are initially hidden and unknown to the friendship. The Spirit of God working between two believers is a powerful force of refinement that is essential in a Pastors life.
In closing, I want you to be reminded that depth in friendship is essential to pluck and taste the sweet fruit of friendship. The fruit does not appear on the tree overnight, nor does it appear without proper cultivation. God ultimately brings the increase and the eternal of harvest is refreshing and renewing. Godly friendship is truly the medicine of God for the isolated soul. Dodd writes, “One of the most important gifts given to us by God to confront isolation is friendship. Friends are a vital part of an emotionally healthy life. Friendships nourish our souls as nothing else can…We desperately need friends.” Please pray and seek such friendships pastors.