Why pastors need friends too

By Steve Witmer

Recently I had one of those “aha” moments that causes you to sit back, take stock and re-evaluate your life. Being relatively new to social media, it was refreshing to discover how many friends I had on Facebook. That is until I scrolled down and discovered that many of them were unknown strangers. How did they become my “friends” without me even being aware? When did social media gain the right to redefine something as essential as friendship?

The truth is that we are more connected through our electronics than any generation in history. We have nearly instant access to those even on distant continents. And yet, we have never been lonelier. There are lonely people at your place of employment, in the pew and sadly, even in the parsonage. Pastors and their spouses are not exempt from the inner ache – and even heartbreak – that emanates from shallow relationships. Within each of us is a deep-seated need to know and be known.

Perhaps there is some sage advice in the saying, “The best friendships are forged in the foxholes,” or even on the frontlines of battle. King David had a friend like that. His name was Hushai. He is mentioned at the end of a lengthy list of the administrative, military and civil leaders of King David’s court. This was a star-studded line up of zealous overachievers and Hushai made the list. Yet here was his distinctive role: “Hushai was the king’s friend” (1 Chronicles 27:33). Hushai remained loyal to David when others joined Absalom’s attempted coup. Hushai was a battle-proven, faithful friend.

Certainly every pastor and pastor’s spouse needs a trusted friend. But how do we find and cultivate high-quality friendships? While this topic deserves more than can be outlined in this brief article, here are a few ideas to consider:

  1. Reinvigorate a formerly close, but somewhat dormant relationship through a call or visit. Sometimes historic friendships, because you have shared something, can be the most fulfilling.
  2. Actively seek to establish new friendships with individuals who share common interests or hobbies. Sometimes connections outside of your pastoral duties can be very satisfying.
  3. Cultivate a chosen relationship connection with another pastor or pastoral couple in your community. This is a wonderful resource for support and prayer.
  4. If there is a lonely spouse in the parsonage, there may be two. Be strategic about rekindling the romance in your marriage. After all, you did marry your best friend.
  5. Remember that even if everyone chooses to forsake you, Jesus never will. He is a faithful and true friend. He is always available, always cares and is our compassionately wise Counsellor.

May you be blessed with deepened friendships that last a lifetime!


Steve and Becky Witmer have served together for more than 35 years in a variety of ministry roles. After five years with YWAM, they served in roles such as senior pastor, missionary director, and pastoral care coordinator for their associated network of churches. Sensing that they were entering a new season of life after 14 years as senior pastors in their church, Steve and Becky transitioned to the role of associate pastors for the same congregation. This new role enables them to invest time and energy into both missions and the care of pastors and emerging leaders. They serve as contract retreat leaders with Kerith Retreats, a ministry of Focus on the Family Canada.

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