And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus;Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. (Matt. 10:1-4 ESV)
Jesus was sinless. Jesus was fully man and fully God. Jesus wasn’t married. I find it informative and helpful to see that Jesus really only truly spent quality time with twelve guys and a few women. He really only spent deep quality time with the three in His inner circle, Peter, James and John. Sure, He continually touched the lives of countless people. But He wasn’t at the disposal of everyone. He, even being the perfect, sinless Son of God, had human limitations during His life as a man. This is because God placed Him in human form, so that He could struggle with limitations and temptations as we do, ultimately being unjustly murdered and providing the perfect sacrifice for sin, and yet also providing the ideal example for us by His life.
So I glean a few things from this…
I should only really spend deep, quality time with about 3 dudes who want to follow Jesus with me. They should be dudes that I really connect with and care for. They should not be female because I already have one wife and I don’t plan on connecting deeply with another woman that is not her! I’m not Jesus, so I’m not capable of connecting and understanding every personality that exists out there. I have people that possess similar personalities to mine. I can be a good friend to a few people, or be spread thin and never really have quality time with anybody. I’d rather have quality than quantity in everything I do. Jesus modeled this. It is a key essence of discipleship.
I believe, as a general principle, that I should have meaningful friendships with at least 3 dudes who don’t follow Jesus. All the same principles apply here as well. These are genuine friendships with people that I truly understand, and who understand me. I don’t have the agenda of forcing conversion on any of these guys. Rather, they’re people I relate to well and have great friendships with. We may not share the same beliefs, so these friends aren’t spiritual advisors to me. However, there is a mutual learning thing that happens here, because these guys keep me from becoming an enclosed, holier than thou Christian who is irrelevant to my generation, and maybe, hopefully, they’re drawn to Jesus because of me. Guaranteed, we have a lot of great laughs and truly are close friends to the extent that we share similar dispositions, dreams, aspirations and interests.
When it comes down to it, these all have to be genuine, authentic friendships. I’m comforted to know that I don’t have to understand and relate to every type of person out there. Granted, I have to be able to love and seek to understand everyone. That is part of what I’m commanded to do as a follower of Jesus. But God also created me, and all of us, as unique people who can understand others like we are.
This is why pastors need a break from their people. Here are some things a pastor is not:
1. A pastor is not the best friend of everyone in the congregation. He is human and needs friendships with a few people, just like everyone else.
2. A pastor is not at the disposal of everyone in the congregation. That is “pastor-olatry”. People who expect the pastor to be at their disposal are putting that pastor as an idol in front of Jesus. Fourteen year old kids don’t get fed breast-milk, needing to have a babysitter. Likewise, mature, adult Christians can feed themselves and follow Jesus- they shouldn’t depend on the pastor.
3. A pastor is just a human being with a big responsibility in their life’s calling. They should be held to a higher standard to prevent them from sin and hypocrisy. But they’re a regular human being with real human needs, and they’re not the Dark Knight or Superman.
Here are some things that a pastor should be expected to do…
1. A pastor is called to empower the people of his congregation to take care of each other and reach out to their communities. When we all do the work of ministry together, side by side, none of us will burn out and we will have contagious joy and passion in what we do.
2. A pastor is called to serve his people well. This doesn’t mean that he says yes to everything or no to everything. It means that it’s a priority to be available to people, but first to God, next to his family, and third to the work of ministry. There are limits and boundaries that every human being has.
3. A pastor is called to point his people to their responsibility to live out the Word of God and recklessly follow Jesus. He is to point people to this by his words and, maybe most of all, his example.