Monday Morning Insight has a post asking if pastors should have close friends in the Church. I thought I would weigh in on what I think.
Let's start by looking at scripture. What does the scripture have to say about friends and friendship?
Here is a link to all verses that contain the word friend. Some ones I want to highlight are below.
6If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers;
7Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth;
8Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him:
16Wherefore is there a price in the hand of a fool to get wisdom, seeing he hath no heart to it?
17A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
18A man void of understanding striketh hands, and becometh surety in the presence of his friend.
24A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.
5Open rebuke is better than secret love.
6Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
7The full soul loatheth an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.
3Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.
4And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.
5But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.
14Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
15Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.
16Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
From the results of the search, we can see the Bible has TONS to say about friendship. From several verses (see Deuteronomy 13:6-8 and Proverbs 17:16-18 from above) we can clearly see that friends can be a bad thing. From yet other verses (Proverbs 27:5-7 above) we can see that friends can serve a purpose. From yet other verses (Luke 12:3-5 above) we can see that Jesus had friends on earth. We can even see in John 15:14-16 that Jesus says calls those who have accepted Him friends. So what is the problem?
I think the problem–just like in most things–isn't the thing but our implementation of friends. Clearly friends and friendship is Biblical. Friends serve to encourage, lift up, help, and keep each other on track. However, I think we have list sight of the last one. We want friends. We want others to like us. How do we do that? We are "nice" to each other.
In our culture, being nice has been transformed into "doing favors for", "thinking more of", and "don't say 'mean' things." Biblical friendships would entail speaking tough love to people. Helping them improve and get closer to Christ.
In a business meeting or other situation, friendships shouldn't stop us from doing the right thing. Since when does being a friend entail always siding with your "friend." If that is what is expected, one should evaluate if the "friend" is a real friend or not.
In conclusion, I don't think there is anything wrong with pastors having friends. Having friends–both in and out of the church–is acceptable. However, those friendships should be Biblical friendships and neither party should feel pressured to NOT do the right thing.