categories: communication, relationships
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July 18th, 2008

by Craig Groeschel

12 comments (+ Add)

Temptations of Success (5 of 5)

As odd as it sounds, it’s incredibly easy for successful ministers to lose intimacy in relationships.

One would think that a person leading a large ministry would have tons of close friends. In many cases, the opposite is true. The “limelight” can often drive a pastor into a life of relational seclusion.

Amy and I made an intentional decision to do life together with several families. Instead of pulling back, we decided to push forward. It has been one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.

How do you keep your relationships close?


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there are a total of12
  1. Jul 18, 2008 at 6:35 am

    I do it the same way i tell others to, join a small group. Don’t run one, join one.

  2. Jul 18, 2008 at 7:42 am

    Of course I don’t lead a large church, but I can see where the sometimes pain of ministry and the never ending demands could drive you into a closet relationally speaking. There is also something about leadership that sort of alienates you somehow. I can’t explain it. I try very hard NOT to let that happen but I think it might be somewhat unavoidable because of how others view you. (not something you do)

    My ministry team is full of good friends. I try to do things together as a team and also just for fun - like going to the movies tonight with some girlfriends or having some couples over for dinner or just going to lunch. We don’t have as many couple friends as I’d like though.

    And yes, we stay involved in a life group.

    I also have relationships with others outside the church - not a ton of close ones, but some. I feel very able to be myself with them and not wonder about their opinion of whatever is going on at church. Hearing people’s opinions sometimes makes me want to run and hide!

    The rub for me has been that some people are good friends, but I also lead them. The stress of - at times - them being upset with Jan the leader takes a toll on the friendship. I don’t know what to do about that.

  3. Jul 18, 2008 at 8:57 am

    Jo & I are totally different people. I am a social creature and she is not. However, we have had a few close friends along the way. We like to go out to eat with them, hang with them, go to ballgames, etc. She is far less open than I am so I will defer to her sometimes on those she feels comfortable with but at the same time she relies on me to :pick” those she would feel comfortable with. At times I will stretch her because I want to get to know someone better. We also belong to a small group. I am only one of the leaders. It has worked out well since we are seen as one of the couples there.

  4. Jul 18, 2008 at 9:11 am

    Life is better with people in it. You can’t be true friends with everybody and it is hard to be real with all, but to have a core group to hang with and be your true self is essential! God created us to be relational! Best advice I received about this..Pray for God to show you who to be friends with!

  5. Jul 18, 2008 at 10:05 am

    I am a pastor and the son of a pastor. My parents were taught to keep a separation between the minister’s and the people. Thankfully they saw the absurdity of this. I feel like my generation has broken this mold somewhat, but I still know some ministers who use this rule of thumb. I think it is because of their own insecurity. I think they feel that if people knew what they were really like they wouldn’t follow them, or want to listen to them. I feel that honesty and authenticity are traits that ministers should have. We shouldn’t be insecure and we should allow people to love us for who we are. Moses put a veil over his face so the Israelite’s wouldn’t see the glory fading. I think we need to have the freedom to remove that veil and get to know people.

  6. Jul 18, 2008 at 11:07 am

    As the son of a pastor I was raised much like Justin mentioned, keeping a separation between me and the congregation. I had a few friends throughout my childhood and teen years but nothing that was very deep or long-lived. When I got married 2 years ago, my wife and I found it hard to find friends and for the last 2 years it has been something that has burdened us and we recently started seeking God about getting Godly friends. What did we do? We made an effort! We made a VERY strong effort to step out and be friendly to others and you know what? God came through. He has brought some people in our life that we can sharpen and that will sharpen us, and people that we can have fun with. Its really funny, because we have found that most people are looking for really good friends but they just don’t want to make the effort. God doesn’t want us to be alone, and especially being in my mid-20’s I believe God wants me to have fun and enjoy life. But God requires us to do something in the natural before He can add His “super” to it. The friends that God brings supernaturally will always be the best ones. But you have to take the first step!

  7. Jul 18, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    This post touched me this morning. How true this is.
    Thanks for touching on a subject that is PIVOTAL to health and well-being.

  8. Jul 18, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    Prayer… prayer.. and more prayer.

  9. Jul 18, 2008 at 7:15 pm

    I take my cue from Jesus in the garden. He shows up just how important intimate relationships are. He was in a time of extreme pain, about to go to the cross and chose to open himself up to imperfect people. He just wanted them close by. He wanted Peter, James and John to be there with Him even though there was nothing they could do to change the outcome of what was about to happen to Jesus and Jesus knew it. Despite that He tried three times to wake them because He wanted people there when He hurt. If He didn’t He would not have tried over and over. I mean He was the Son of God and needed people so I guess we do too.

    As ministry leaders we have often been trained to give people an impression that we are good all of the time and we pull away from people so they do not se our humanity. The whole “never let them see you sweat” scenario. But that is not real life. If Jesus thought it was ok to let people in who were imperfect (and about to deny Him) then I think it is ok for me to have friends close in who see the real me and it be ok. They will let me down at times and I them, but it is worth it.

    So to sum it all up. We need to know the difference between a Peter and a Judas. Sometimes we throw people into the Judas category because we have been hurt before and that is a mistake, they might just be a Peter who does some dumb stuff but really is true blue and just in need of some maturity. On the other hand we put Judas’ in places we shouldn’t because we don’t use discernment in our relationships. We let the wrong people in.

    We cannot withdrawal from people because of fear even though it is tempting at times. We just don’t want to risk it sometimes. But, God is much better at protecting me that I am at protecting me. I am going to continue to let Him do His job as our church grows and try to not withdrawal when I am tempted too.

  10. Jul 20, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    Craig, this is great advice. How do you manage to create a strong balance between all the relationships? Me and my wife love being able to spend as much time with as many people as possible.

  11. Jul 21, 2008 at 9:18 am

    This can be one of the most painful parts of ministry to me. Jennifer and I are also very intentional in keeping close relationships. Having moved recently, we are having to discover this process all over again. We believe it’s important to enough to work through it all again.

  12. Aug 19, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    [...] Great series on success in the church. part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5 [...]