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Paula Johnson, the founder of Clergy Spouse Alliance, Regional Conferences, is working in the GC Ministerial Department in Silver
Spring, Maryland.  Paula has also been in team ministry with her
husband, Pastor J. Alfred Johnson11 for over 20 years counseling

Befriending Clergy Spouses of Other Faith Groups
A Friendship Ministry

Friendship is a wonderful thing, and the old adage true, “A friend in need is a friend indeed.”
A true friend is rare. There’s a telling line in the song, “Friendship,” by Cole Porter that says, “It's friendship, friendship, just perfect blend-ship . . . ”  

            What is a friend?  Here’s a definition from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
  • Friend - a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations.

            What is friendship?  Here’s a definition from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
  • a relationship between friends.

            The definition of befriend--to act as a friend to someone by offering help and support.

Some friendships we have are blessed with intimacy and confidentiality which arises from a marvelous interplay of character, personality, temperament, and those things that the friends share in common.

Unfortunately some other friendships are so exclusive that they become a negative “click” and allow no room for anyone else to enter. When it comes to the formation of friendship, the door of inclusivity should always be open and in the room of acceptance, a vacant chair in the circle for another to occupy.

Some clergy spouses have challenges making friends within their congregation or in the area of their spouses’ employment. Pastoral Care Inc., at http://www.pastoralcareinc.com/statistics/, report statistics, provided by The Fuller Institute, George Barna and their organization, that give  validation to the importance of befriending pastoral spouses.
· 25 percent don't know where to turn when they have a family or personal conflict or issue.
· 25 percent of pastors' wives see their husband's work schedule as a source of conflict.
· 33 percent say that being in ministry is an outright hazard to their family.
· 40 percent of pastors and 47 per cent of spouses are suffering from burnout, frantic schedules, and/or unrealistic expectations.
· 45 percent of pastors' wives say the greatest danger to them and their family is physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual burnout.
· 45 percent of pastors say that they've experienced depression or burnout to the extent that they needed to take a leave of absence from ministry. 
· 52 percent of pastors say they and their spouses believe that being in pastoral ministry is hazardous to their family's well-being and health.
· 56 percent of pastors' wives say that they have no close friends.
· 75 percent report severe stress causing such things as anguish, worry, bewilderment, anger, depression, fear, and alienation.
· 80 percent of pastors say they have insufficient time with their spouse.
· 80 percent believe that pastoral ministry affects their families negatively.

            Even though more females are joining the pastoral/clergy rank, there are hardly, if at all, any statistics highlighting their spouses.  However, we can expect that they will be facing similar challenges. Such statistics should not only compel but also propel men and women of and near pastoral/clergy families to seek to befriend one another for support and encouragement.

Though we are from different cultures, have different backgrounds and experiences, everybody needs a friend—someone to talk to, count on, be there to laugh and weep with.  Who better to extend the hand of friendship to a clergy spouse but another clergy spouse.  For some to reach out to others, as well as receive the gestures of friendship from others, is way out of their comfort zone.  However, the implications of the many studies are a strong indicator  we should remember how good and important this is to do so for our sake and theirs. Hence I present, for the sake of understanding and discussion, a few elements, an overview on the topic of “Befriending Clergy Spouses of Other Faith Groups – A Friendship Ministry.”

The Purpose
  • Develop friendships with clergy spouse of other faith groups.
  • Expand personal perspective and connection with people of other faith communities who believe in God.
The Objective
  • To connect with as many clergy spouses as circumstances, time, and opportunity present themselves and intentionally meet and befriend them.
The Expected Results/Probable Outcome
  • To develop a relationship that would lead to friendship beginning with conversation.  Next, by noting mutual interests, sharing likes and concerns, interests and aspirations for their life and profession.  Hopefully this will be an encouragement to another clergy spouse.
  • To become/have a spiritual partner in prayer and/or Bible study.
  • To be/have an accountability partner, ie. health, exercise or diet.
  • To be/have a trusted confidant.
  • To have a friend to hang out with from time to time and share positive conversations.
              Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend
                                  springs from their heartfelt advice.  Proverbs 27:9

What Does It Take to Have Such A Friendship Ministry?
            There’s another adage that says, “If you want to make a friend you should show yourself friendly.”  A few tips, for the shy among us, when meeting someone for the first time.
  • Go forward with an out stretched hand, positive attitude and smile; then introduce yourself by saying, “Hi.  I’m _________.”
  • Refrain from having the main aim of proselytizing  to your faith and convictions. If biblical topics come up let the Lord lead.
  • Refrain from beating them over the head with the Bible and the truth that you know.
  • Refrain from quizzing or testing them about their knowledge of the Bible.
  • Refrain from harassing them because their diet is not like yours.
  • Do, however, find basic common ground for discussions such as family, interests,
    occupations, hobbies and health issues.
The How, When, Where
            How?  You ask God for wisdom and courage and after you’ve reached out a hand and introduced yourself, let the conversation begin. Once a friendship is established, value it enough to maintain it. Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times …” Though it takes time, effort, and energy, developing a good friendship is worth it.

            When? When the opportunity presents itself! Sometimes you may find yourself in the company of a clergy and spouse event and have the opportunity to meet several spouses at one time. Or, perhaps you may meet one clergy couple by divine providence in an isolated circumstance. 

            Where? There are forums, events, and activities designed to intentionally bring clergy and spouses together. These are great opportunities to meet and get acquainted. Events such as in the local area, regional, or state ministerial gatherings and convocation, as Prayer breakfasts/luncheons, workshops, seminars, etc. These are perfect opportunities to widen your circle of clergy friends.

            Proverbs 27:9--Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.
Friendship  By Travis D. Phillips
Friends will come and friends will go
The seasons change and it will show
I will age and so will you
But our friendship stays strong and true.

Source:  http://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem-about-a-friendship-strong-and-rue#ixzz3lH9N0D00      

            In reality, friendship ministry has at its core the paradigm of Jesus “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The result will be as St. Francis of Assisi expressed in his well-known line, “It is in giving that we receive,” for in ministering to others through friendship the chances are that we will receive more than we give. 

            Participation in ministry of any kind is a good thing to do. When the ministry of extending one’s self blossoms into authentic friendship, what a great thing to have and cherish! Remember to extend the olive branch of friendship to the clergy spouse in your community.  Expand your church-bound horizons. Experience the joy of friendship, not only for here and now, but for eternity.