By Nancy Nelson
Newspapers across the country featured articles on the departure of the Friends sitcom. The long-running TV show had a theme of six friends sharing life together. A fan commented at the end of the season, “I’ve always wished - I think a lot of people wish - they had a group of friends who were close-knit and loved each other and supported each other like the show’s characters do.”
Most ministry wives share those same thoughts. Even though we minister to people daily, show hospitality in our homes regularly, and are loved by many in our congregations, we still long for the intimacy of a close friend and confidante. However, there are innate challenges in our roles as ministry wives in the area of friendships:
Our schedule is full. We find it difficult to be spontaneous. We don’t have energy left at the end of the week for one more person.
We share the belief that everyone needs “one best friend,” one perfect friend who will meet all of our emotional and friendship needs. We want that one friend who will always be positive, always love our kids, faithfully keep our secrets, and challenge us spiritually.
The old concept of “one best friend” limits us from finding a myriad of relationships that could positively energize our lives. God will sometimes use strangers to challenge us spiritually. He uses acquaintances many times who can say things that a close friend might never say because she wants to protect us.
We have been hurt in the past
We have been offended, let down, and criticized. Like an artichoke, we have numerous layers that protect our tender hearts.
We like our pedestal
Some of us are lonely because we don’t want people to know the “real us.” We like the label of “perfect Christian” or “together ministry wife” so we choose to keep people at arm’s length.
Ministry wives need multiple friends. You may find them inside your church, in your family, your neighborhood, your workplace, or through your kids. Consider a bouquet of these types of friends:
Find someone who spiritually challenges you, who encourages you to love God more. She inspires you to go home and be a better mother and a more loving wife. She helps you stay disciplined on your diet. She helps you try to improve in areas of your life.
This friend can “speak into” your life. She is a little bit further along in her walk with God, a role model of a Christian wife, mother, or ministry wife. This friend is someone who prays regularly for your family.
Everyone needs a friend who makes her feel happy and uplifted each time you’re together. She gives you perspective, because she takes your mind off of your challenges. You laugh when you’re together. This friend sees the rainbow behind the cloud. Though she may never know the details of your life or ministry, her role is to remind you that joy is available for you!
You need one person with whom you can share your deep and honest feelings, a friend who refuses to “pass on” the secrets of the pastor’s wife. She is tried and true. Finding a confidante takes time. Start by sharing little things and see if she really is a “secret-keeper.”
A Ministry Partner
You share the same passion. You both care about kids, or senior citizens, or the homeless. You spend hours planning events together. You can count on her to support the ministry effort. Sometimes these friendships are more short-lived, but wonderful to enjoy for a season.
An Old Friend
You might not be able to live near each other, but you stay in touch. She loved you through a lot of challenging times. You pick up where you left off each time you see this friend. She prays for you without being asked.
A New Friend
Every ministry wife needs new friends. Keep your heart open for who God will bring into your life. Remember that “old” friends were once “new” friends. God brings different people into our lives for a season. Enjoy the spontaneity and freshness of a new friend.
God uses people in our lives. Don’t settle for one friend when you can have many! There are dozens of friends available to you. Open up your heart to the different types of people that God will use in your life and ministry.