student ministry, youth ministry, ministry friendships

A Famine of Friendships

By Guest Contributor May 27, 2014

This post is originally from Chris Maxwell’s Another Day Along the Way blog. Portions of this story will be included in Chris Maxwell’s book Pause for Pastors.

My accountability team met together in our normal place—sitting, talking, asking, thinking, discussing, evaluating, confronting, praying. During the prayer time, my friend requested for God, the great Listener, to end a drought many people were enduring. Not a weather-related drought. Not a lack of moisture. He asked God, “Please end the drought of relationships.”

Those words stick with me. I see such a drought in so many lives—a drought of relationships, a famine of friendships.

Lonely people stay busy. The lives of too many people are characterized by avoidance, dishonesty, inauthenticity, and detachment. Past hurts influence present behavior, prohibiting possible relationships. Pain—deep, deep pain—is allowed to survive. Rather than risk another hurt, another disappointment, another scar, many people choose isolation. Past hurts demand that we keep relationships on the surface instead of pursuing recovery and forgiveness.

Many of your students may experience this drought of relationships. But as a youth worker, you’re probably gasping for community, too.

We in student ministry hide our isolation well. We mask it with humor and hurry, busyness and numbness, control and dependence, obsession and avoidance. But deep in our guts, the longing for human connection grows.

People were made to live in the plural, not the singular. But often we have been hurt so deeply by others that we maintain a distance. We learn to cope through surface relationships and shallow conversations. Or perhaps we’ve listened to so many students struggle through pain, so many volunteers and staff members spill their guts that we can’t stand the thought of one more deep conversation. We weren’t created to survive solely on these conversations. We need relationships outside the ministry workplace. We need friends who can help carry our burdens.

What about you? Do you have a friend who allows you to speak honestly? A friend who refuses to gossip, preach, condemn, or turn away from the relationship?

Do past hurts control your present decisions? Have you recently spoken hateful words about another person, and then realized those words came from the storage of wounds from your past? Have you ever thrown up your hands, drained from too many one-way relationships?

It is not good that we dwell alone. It is not good that we have only surface friends, narrow friends, or fake friends. We need true friends. Together, let us pursue powerful friendships to quench this relationship drought in vocational ministry.

“No matter who we are, no matter how deeply we live in the kingdom, we still need to be encouraged, admonished and challenged to grow in Christlikeness; we need to be accountable to an encouraging community,” (James Bryan Smith, The Good and Beautiful Community).

About the Author

Guest Contributor

The LeaderTreks Blog is proud to share the hard-earned wisdom of student ministry leaders from many different backgrounds and professions. From time to time, we will feature guest blog posts from writers other than our regular contributors. We include these posts to provide additional perspectives and insight that we’re sure will help develop you and your ministry…  Read More