Friendship for the Pastor’s WifeBy Marby Iglesias
July 23, 2020
I remember being told early on “Pastor’s wives don’t have friends; Jesus is your friend.” I recall vividly how my heart instantly sank that morning. I didn’t want a lonely life; I wanted to love those we served and feel loved in return. Friendship is a means of grace that we are too soon to either neglect or to idolize. Recent trends have elevated friends to the level of spouses. Friends become those you speak to all throughout the day, hang out with you every weekend, and can finish your sentences. At times, this can contradict God’s intentions for friendship and can leave us disappointed.
More often though, among pastors’ wives I see the opposite. We ache to be heard and understood by those outside our home, to laugh and joke freely, to cry without being judged. Is this an elusive dream or a gift to seek out and pursue? The Bible gives us some insights into what friendship is and what we can expect from having true friends.
- Friends shape who we are: “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’” (1 Corinthians 15:33, ESV)
- Good friends are few and closer than family: “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24)
- Friendship is based on honesty: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” (Proverbs 27:6)
- Friends are there to help in your time of need and discouragement: “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)
- Friends will challenge you and God will use them to sanctify you: “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)
In a broken world filled with sinners, some of these characteristics will be lacking in both ourselves and in those we befriend. But friendship is still a good gift to pursue and steward. As a pastor’s wife you can be sure that we have a Good Father that has not withheld friendship from you. Even amid the complexities of ministry and leadership, friendship can thrive.
How do we start? Here are two small steps you can take that will monumentally change the way you relate to other women in your church and will ignite confidence to pursue life-giving friendships.
See the women of your church more similar to yourself than different.
There is a clear temptation in leadership to value differently our troubles and burdens when compared to others. 1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us that there is “NO temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.” The women of your church are very much like you even if their circumstances look vastly different. Do you feel lonely? They have felt loneliness also. Do you want to please others and succumb to the fear of man? They have people in their lives they want to please also. Are you tempted with discouragement and doubt? They have tasted discouragement regularly. Do you struggle to submit to your husband? They know marriage conflict all too well.
When we approach others as a “fellow sinner” rather than a “holy leader” we are able to not only serve them better but create bridges of fellowship and trust with those around us. These bridges will join our hearts closer to a few that we will be able to call close friends. I have often heard from pastors’ who wives feel that they can’t have transparent friendships because there are details about the church life that are confidential and complicated. Clearly, healthy friendships should never be birthed out of slander of others nor out of gossip. But we can have friends that carry the burden of our troubles without knowing all the details of our strife. What to share and what not to share might be different in each season but we are still women in need of friends to minister God’s Word into our hearts.
Take the first step…pursue, pursue, pursue.
A healthy, long-lasting friendship is work and takes intentionality. We will not instantly bond with someone that we are not actively spending time with and sharing our lives with. In the busyness of ministry, where we are hosting new families, encouraging hurting members, caring for our homes, and loving our husbands, it may seem like there is little room left for additional relationships. If we are only caring for others and never being “known” then we will soon find ourselves spiritually drained and starved from the means of grace that is found in fellowship.
In every season of life, we can be creative in how we incorporate meaningful relationships into our lives. These past few weeks I have had younger friends come over for lunch to help me with laundry and talk about the Lord and ministry. I have also had a few virtual “tea parties” with two or three friends to catch-up on life and pray for one another. Each encounter has taken lots of effort to organize and follow through but in the end, we have found ourselves blessed and refreshed. As we make strides to develop and maintain friendships, let us remember that there is only one relationship that will satisfy our deepest longings and will be unfailing. If we approach women around us with a clear awareness of our own need for the gospel, we will be in the right place to allow others into our lives and extend forgiveness and mercy when they fail. Friendships are not the result of perfect compatibility but of a perfect Savior that made us part of the same family and the same body.