A Pastor's Need for Intimacy with God

Wilson and Hoffmann argue that there are three different types of intimate relationships—those with friends, a relationship with a spouse, and our relationship with God (26). And to define these relationships, they state, “Intimate relationships are those in which others truly understand us, even if they don’t agree with us. [. . .] They know the real us that exists below the mask we wear when we’re ‘on-stage’ in ministry. They know our hurts, our struggles, our private victories and the things at the top of our prayer list” (34). Defining intimacy itself they write, “[. . .] a simple but effective way of describing intimacy might be ‘any relationship where we know another fully and where we are also fully known’” (35).

All three of these types of intimate relationships (with the exception of the spouse for those who are unmarried) are necessary for ministers, especially an intimate relationship with God. Romans 8:15 says, “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’” (ESV). Here we can see that believes were not just brought onto a task or commission alone. It is not as if pastors were hired on by God to work for his Kingdom. Instead, we have been adopted into the family. We are a part of the family business but it does not end there. We are adopted into the family—this is language of love, relationship, and intimacy. God wants this intimacy with all of his children.

If a ministry gets so busy as to neglect this relationship, he or she might as well pack it up and close up shop. It is all about this relationship. Ministry is helping people foster stronger, better intimate relationships with God. A pastor may be able to lead others into this relationship for a time, but soon enough, if he or she does not have an intimacy with God, it starts to look like nothing but an employment contract and in the Kingdom of God, employment contracts are not what God is looking for. He wants to hear ‘Abba, Father!’ from his children.

Wilson, Michael Todd, and Brad Hoffmann. Preventing Ministry Failure: A ShepherdCare Guide for Pastors, Ministers and Other Caregivers. Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Books, 2007.

* Painting by Nikhil Kirsh and used by permission.