Friends or Ministry

Over the years, I have pondered what the difference between social and ministry contacts.  What is the difference between meeting a friend from church and an official pastoral call.

Here is why it matters.  I have an expense account to help cover the costs of ministry meetings–lunches, admission to games, etc.  Today I meet with E who is the one who reviews all of my expenses.  He invited me to lunch and signs off all conversations, “I am looking forward to it, my friend.”  So do I turn in the expenses of meeting with him?

He doesn’t see this as “work,” but as “friendship.”

Here is the truth of the matter.  I would not be friends with E or with any of the people at this church had I not accepted the call to come and be their pastor.  So, in a sense, all of the contacts I have here are “business” contacts and, strictly speaking, work related.

If I meet with someone and they “feel” like we are friends, I am doing my job well.  If they “feel” like they are a task on my schedule, I am not doing my job very well.  If they “feel” like another line in my calendar, I cannot really minister to them at all.

To further complicate things, I really do care about the people I pastor.  That is because this is not just a job, but a calling.  But it is also my job.

If I turn in the expense of meeting with E, will it undermine my relationship with him (tenuous as it is?)

I think I understand how people–especially elders–see what I do.  If I am calling on someone else in the congregation, I am doing my job.  If I come to see them, I am coming as a friend.

I don’t think I will turn in the expense.  I want to be his pastor.

About shepherd

I am a pastor at a local church.
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2 Responses to Friends or Ministry

  1. Z says:

    I have a solution… If E offers and even insists on paying then he has potential to be a friend. If he does not then clearly he knows you have an expense account and is not a friend. Turn it in.

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