Fake news is everywhere. You can't watch the news or go onto social media without hearing about it. People now have to decide what "real" news is because they're having a hard time differentiating between facts and opinion. It seems like there is more and more fake news every day.
In our relationships, there is a lot of fake talk happening, too. People will ask how we are doing and we will make a fake reply of "fine." We will avoid talking about what is really going on inside us and will keep our distance from others. In this last post on pastor health, I'd like to talk about relational health. There are three steps we need to take if we are going to be healthy relationally.
Everybody needs somebody they can talk to. It could be somebody in your church or in your social network but you need somebody you can have a close, intimate relationship with. Jesus did; He ministered to thousands but had three close friends: Peter, James, and John. Proverbs 17:17 (ESV) says, "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." We need people in our lives who love us for us and not for what we do. We must have people that we can be honest with.
The most important part of this relationship is that it needs to be a safe place. Many pastors will turn to their spouse as their safe place but your wife has plenty on her plate already. We need to have other people in our lives that we can have a safe conversation with.
After you find the right people--I would recommend 2-3 people--you need to meet regularly with them. You can be flexible but you should try to meet at least once a month. For example, there are two people in my life that I have honest conversations with regularly. One lives out of town so we don't meet in person often but we usually talk on the phone every week. The second person lives in town so we try to get together for coffee once a month. These are people I can be totally transparent with who love me and care about me as a person. Whatever you decide on your schedule, it needs to be consistent. If you only meet a couple of times a year, it won't have as much value to you. You need to meet regularly with them.
In these conversations, the most important thing is transparency. You have to be totally transparent with these close friends knowing that they won't judge or condemn you. You can't say everything to everyone but you can say everything to someone and it is healthy to open up to other people. The focus should not be on complaining about your problems but sharing your heart and about how things are affecting you. You want to share your thoughts and feelings with the sympathetic ear of a person who loves you.
Proverbs 18:24 says, "A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." Jesus is that friend to us. He says to us, "I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5b). But in this life we also need people to stand with us.
Question: Who is in your life today that you can be totally transparent with? Ask God for people you can be real with and open up to them.