Wednesday, January 9, 2013 9:59 AM

What pastors should look for in a safe relationship

Wednesday, January 9, 2013 9:59 AM
Wednesday, January 9, 2013 9:59 AM

Many pastors suffer with relational anorexia. Pastors can find a cure for this devastating issue when we seek out and find people with whom we can process the pain ministry inevitably brings.

As you consider the traits you’d look for in a safe person (below), consider these Scriptures and the guidelines they infer, because these people are often difficult to spot.

When Samuel went to look for Saul’s replacement, God told him, Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. GOD judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; GOD looks into the heart.

Outward impressions may belie the heart of a potential safe person, so don’t let a poor first impression turn you off. When David looked for those with whom he’d surround himself, he wrote,  I have my eye on salt-of-the-earth people—they’re the ones I want working with me; Men and women on the straight and narrow—these are the ones I want at my side.

Character and integrity took front and center when he chose his advisors and leaders. He also said, Let the godly strike me! It will be a kindness! If they reprove me, it is soothing medicine. Don’t let me refuse it.

David looked for those with the courage to tell him what he needed to hear, not what he wanted to hear. Daniel Goleman (most known for writing on emotional intelligence) wisely notes,

People deprive their co-workers—whether bosses or subordinates—of honest performance feedback for several reasons, chief of which is that it can be uncomfortable to give such feedback. We’re afraid of hurting others’ feelings or otherwise upsetting them. Yet, while we tend to keep the truth about how others are actually doing to ourselves (oddly, not just the negatives, but also the positives), all of us generally crave that kind of appraisal. Candid evaluations matter deeply, in a way that other information does not.

When Paul taught about rights and privileges he said, knowledge makes us proud of ourselves, while love makes us helpful to others. Someone with all the right replies may not be who you need. Actually, we need those who will ask us the right questions more than those who want to give us answers.

Below I’ve listed several qualities to look for in a safe person. Only perfection, however, will embody them all, so don’t expect to find someone who meets all the criteria. A safe person, however, should evidence many of these.

•    Not a cliché giver, doesn’t over-spiritualize
•    Asks good questions, effectively reflects back what he hears you say, and seeks to understand
•    Believes in you
•    Consistent, a promise keeper
•    Trustworthy, can keep secrets
•    Not afraid of your anger, tears, or other emotions
•    Has his own scars yet doesn’t wallow in his pain; empathetic
•    Around him you don’t feel like a child with a parent but feel you are equals
•    Will genuinely pray for and with you
•    Not critical or judgmental
•    Approachable, vulnerable, humble
•    Wise and discerning
•    Can and will challenge you to get outside your comfort zone
•    Around him (or her if you are a women) you feel comfortable; he’ll let you be on the
     outside who you are on the inside
•    Won’t try to make you someone you’re not; appreciates the real you
•    Likeable to be around (I can’t overemphasize this)
•    Strong commitment to Christ, helps your commitment to Christ deepen
•    Willing to confront with love and grace, doesn’t flatter
•    Helps you become a better person
•    Doesn’t have a lot of expectations of you

To boil it down, a safe person is one who truly will listen, occasionally offer advice, and consistently will support and strengthen you. Pastor, I encourage you to find a safe person in your life, sooner rather than later.


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As i transitioned from lay-minister to Pastor, I believe many of the required qualities that a pastor should embody were somewhat innate for me. I did have to learn (and am still) to change my level of expectation of my GOOD friend.
He has always been somewhat unreliable and self-absorbed; and very difficult to disconnect himself from the trials of his life to give attention to mine. About 2 years into the pastorate I realized- I have to be the giver, and not the taker. That, in itself changed the way I dealt with my GOOD friend. Our conversasion became more of counseling sessions and less of a fellowship.
I am learning to adjust myself, and not to expect too much out of anyone.
I believe God puts people together. So I am waiting for that equaly-yoked friend.

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Wednesday, January 9, 2013 10:06 AM

Praying for Peace And It Does Not Come

Wednesday, January 9, 2013 10:06 AM
Wednesday, January 9, 2013 10:06 AM

I’ve been a committed Christian for over 40 years.
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