I was having lunch with a church planter's wife the other day when the topic of relationships came up. She talked about how she was afraid of forming relationships within their church and staff because what if she opened up to them and they left the church?
I wrote a blog a while back called Don't blame it on the ministry. The blog was written in the context of raising kids in the ministry. How we can give them a negative image of the church when we blame everything on the ministry.
So to piggy back off of that thought, I want to call this post, Don't Blame it on the Ministry, Relationships Edition. Here is the thought I want to throw out there… Relationships come and go in life but you cannot live without them.
If you never spend one second in full time ministry, I guarantee that you will still experience many failed relationships during your lifetime. It may be that you lose contact with your best friend from childhood. It may be that you move back home after college and lose touch with your sorority sisters. Or maybe you move neighborhoods or change jobs or schools.
Then there are the unfortunate and painful times when things go south and you stop contact with someone. You could even lose the most sacred relationship of all, your marriage. In fact, if you think about it, besides family relationships (which can often be more rocky than non-family), most people do not stay in contact with their childhood or even high school and college friends.
I think you get the point I am trying to make. While some relationships fizzle out and others end dramatically, losing friends is a part of life.
So would you go throughout your life never having relationships at the risk of losing them? You can't. And you can't do it in ministry either.
Will people leave your church? For sure. Will it hurt? Of course. We must always remember that there are seasonal relationships and there are forever relationships. My husband, my children, my parents, those are forever relationships. They won't always be perfect, but they're the longest term investments in my life. And while I have dear friends that I love and confide in, I must always remember that they are not guaranteed to last forever. Still, that does not mean that God can not use them in my life today.
You have to risk relationships because it is in relationships you find encouragement, camaraderie, and challenge, even if they are just for a season.
I don't regret forming relationships with even the people who hurtfully left my church and my life. God used those people in my life for a season. And really, whenever someone leaves my life, I find God usually replaces them for a reason that I'll understand later—either in their life or in mine. My husband says, "Sometimes God has to delete stuff from your hard drive to make room for an upgrade."
Don't blame lost relationships on being in the ministry. It is a part of living life.