At Leadership Journal I discuss the advice I received, upon ordination to ministry, to not become good friends with people in my congregation. It was well-meaning, but wrong advice, I thought at the time. Here’s an excerpt of the article:
I don’t see a detachment from people in Jesus’ public ministry. Yes, Jesus took time to get away from the crowds and be alone—something too few pastors do—but this is the same Jesus who purposefully chose, discipled, and cultivated 12 men to walk closely with him for three years. What’s more, Jesus further winnowed his inner circle to three: Peter, James, and John and had perhaps a best friend in John, often described as “the Apostle whom Jesus loved.”
So Jesus, the Good Shepherd, had good friends. He chose a best friend. How can we do less? Of course, there are a few considerations. Unlike Jesus, by choosing and forming deep friendship with a few parishioners, we can form an unhealthy bubble and be isolated from real issues and legitimate criticism. We can also send a signal that we favor, both in our preaching and in our service, certain people over others. Jesus didn’t allow his close friendships to keep him from ministry to others—and neither should we.
You can read the whole thing here.