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The Pastor and His Wife Get to Pick Their Own Friends | Part 1

by Mark Driscoll  

As church planters, Grace and I learned the hard way what a friendship is and is not. Somehow, I got the silly notion that everyone who picked me to be their friend was, in fact, my friend.

Subsequently, I ate lots of meals with people I did not enjoy, had people on my family vacations that drove me so nutty I could not wait to get back to work, and spent countless hours answering the phone, replying to emails, and responding to the demands of pushy, rude, selfish people who smiled while saying words like “buddy” and “friend.” What they meant by “friend” was something more akin to “bullied victim.”

The truth is, as a pastor, you and your wife have many kinds of relationships. What has been helpful for me is considering the kinds of relationships I have like lanes on a highway. I am then better able to clearly determine and articulate who is in which lane without allowing everyone to drive in my friend lane.

Also, I get to decide who drives in which lane. I consider the amount of time, energy, and effort I can pour into each person and relationship on a scale from 0 to +10. I am a finite being. My time and emotional energy are limited and I need to be a good steward of them despite what critics, religious types, and guilt manipulators may say. Here is how I see it:

Relationship Lanes

  0       Enemies

+1       Old Acquaintances | Not in regular, meaningful contact

– Past relationships such as classmates, teammates, coworkers, neighbors, etc.

+2       Distant Relatives | Little regular contact other than when obligated 

– Family event (funeral, wedding, reunion, holidays)

+3       Neighbors | Not in community; see often but not close

– Not in one another’s homes and only surface chats

+4       Connections | Same social circles bring together

– Kids in same school, on same team, or in same activity

– Work out at same gym, etc.

+5       Coworkers

+6       Activity Group | Doing something organized with others

– Sports team, community organization, club cause, hobby

+7       Close Family | See and speak to frequently

– The family you enjoy and pursue

+8       Fellowship | “Church Family”

– Bible study group, ministry partners

+9       Close Friends | Friends you frequently see and speak to

– People you enjoy and pursue, mutually

+10     Spouse

The doctrine of the Trinity (that there is one God in three persons) reveals that God has community and companionship within himself. Or, to say it another way, God is a friend and has friends. Furthermore, God wants us to have friends. This explains why, although sin had not yet entered the world, the first thing God said was not good was to be alone (Gen. 2:18). The book of Proverbs has a great deal to say about friendships. Before looking at those verses, though, there is much that needs to be said about this important subject.

Read Part 2 here.

Mark Driscoll is co-founder of the Acts 29 Network and planted Mars Hill Church in Seattle 15 years ago. He and his wife have recently written a book about marriage to be published in the near future.

Mark will be speaking on June 3 in San Jose on “The Gospel and Your Family,” at Church Plantera boot camp and conference brought to you by Acts 29, The Gospel Coalition and the NorCal Network. Anyone who wants to see more people meet Jesus (not just church planters) is encouraged to attend. (get details and register)

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Pastor Mark Driscoll founded Mars Hill Church in Seattle in the fall of 1996, which has grown to over 13,000 people including new sites in New Mexico and California. He co-founded the Acts 29 Church Planting Network, with three hundred churches in the U.S. and internationally, and is founder of The Resurgence.

Outreach magazine has recognized Mars Hill Church as the ninth most innovative and fifteenth fastest-growing church in America. Outreach magazine has also ranked Mars Hill Church number two of America's top multiplying (church-planting) churches. The Church Report has recognized Pastor Mark as the twenty-second most influential pastor in America. His sermons are downloaded more than a million times a year and he has been recognized by Christianity Today, Inc., as one of the most influential young preachers in America. Seattle magazine has named Pastor Mark as one of the twenty-five most powerful people in Seattle.

Media coverage on Pastor Mark and Mars Hill varies from National Public Radio to Mother Jones magazine, the Associated Press, the New York Times, Blender music magazine, Outreach magazine, Preaching Today, and Leadership magazine to ABC Television and the 700 Club.

His writing includes the books The Radical Reformission: Reaching Out Without Selling Out and Confessions of a Reformission Rev.: Hard Lessons from an Emerging Missional Church, Vintage Jesus, Death by Love, and Vintage Church. He also contributed to the book Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches, and made a chapter contribution to the book Above All Earthly Powers, edited by Dr. John Piper.

Most enjoyably, Mark and his high school sweetheart, Grace, enjoy raising their three sons and two daughters. You can read his full bio here.