Relationships are everything. Relationships matter. Relationships are what we do.

However, as a ministry leader it is possible to miss it in the area of relationships. As a ministry leader, you can have an imbalance of certain types of relationships that might cause problems down the road. Relationships are the key to staying current, staying healthy and staying at your best. I didn’t always get this right, but I know a few things now that I wish I knew when I was starting out.

I recently read an interesting article that made an interesting comment as a side note. It said that we are the average of the five people around us. The idea stated was that we seldom get better as individuals. We’re more likely to improve as groups. The articles suggested that you find your group, spend as much time with your group and become THE group. I think that there is truth to this for sure, I’ve seen it play out in my own ministry. I belong to one such group. But I want to focus on this one idea, that we are the average of the five people around us. If that’s true (and I think it is), it’s important to identify who the five people are around us.

I truly believe that there are five relationships that every ministry leader needs to have to remain at their best. I’m not even going to include the relationships you have with your staff, volunteers and people you serve because you those relationships are inevitable. So, here’s my list:

Local Peers: These are people who do what you do in churches near and around your church. For some reason, we often feel that we’re in competition with each other, so there’s tension between staff from other churches. Stupid. We’re all on the same team and there are more than enough people not going to church to fill all of our churches to capacity. Local pastors understand your community and there’s something special about being able to have lunch with someone whenever you need community with someone who understands.

Non-Locals Peers: Sometimes you’ll hit limitations with local peers. You might not find someone who thinks just like you, which is okay – but sometimes you’re going to want to vent to a specialist who gets you. Sometimes you want to brainstorm with someone who sees your ministry just like you do. Sometimes you need to talk to someone about something happening at your church where it’s not really safe to share with someone on staff or someone local. Having peers who are just a phone call, text or facetime away is invaluable!

A Mentor/Coach: Some friends will call you on your garbage. Those are rare. Regardless, every one of us needs a mentor/coach. Someone who knows us well, understands the way we tick and can devise a path toward development. At any time, I have mentors that relationally coach me and I have coaches that I pay to help me grow. You’ll probably get to where you need to go, eventually. However, a coach/mentor will get you there quicker.

Someone to Mentor: Stop being so freaking selfish. You have something to offer. You’re further down the road than someone else. Find that person and help them where they are. I’m not talking about a coaching/mentorship gig either. Just help someone. You’ll be amazed by how helping someone else with where you’ve been crystalizes what you believe and what you’ve experienced. Trust me, you’ll get as much out of it as you give.

Friends: You need some good friends. There have been a lot of unhealthy times in my life where every one of my closest friends got a paycheck from me or they volunteered for me. It makes sense when we’re fully committed to our ministry, but it’s not healthy. You need to have dinner with someone where you don’t mention ministry even once. What’s really healthy is to have a friend or two that doesn’t even go to your church – or any church. I’m not talking about evangelism either. Just having a good friend that might bring you some perspective. Someone to talk with about your yard, your kids or something else that interests you.

There will be seasons where you might have more of one kind of relationships than the other and that’s fine. It’s normal and natural. However, work to build relationships in every area because you’ll be better at your job because of it. You’ll be healthier because of it, in every way.