Meredith Gudger-Raines has an excellent article in UM Portal about the severe isolation that the pastorate instigates from the non-Christian world. She recounts making new friends at a Starbucks and then trying to find time to spend with them:
But it was Saturday night, and the bulletins needed to be copied. (And let’s be honest: The sermon needed to be written.) I wanted to go, but I knew my place.
Yet the women I was with didn’t seem to stick me in that place. One even said, “Oh, a Friday night out would be better for you. We’ll have to think about that next time.” The other, who said she’s a Buddhist, said, “We accept everyone! Everyone needs more girlfriends.”
I left feeling angry for being isolated in a job where I never meet people like me. But my the time I got home, I was angry with myself for letting myself become so isolated. These women didn’t seem to see a divide between me and them; why did I superimpose one?
We say John Wesley said, “The world is my parish,” but I’ve let the church become my parish. I get nervous about being among the people of God. I don’t want to be separated out. I want to be me, one of God’s children, one of the crowd. Is that possible as a pastor?
I vividly remember, about five years ago, walking away from playing role-playing games so that I could have more time for ministry in my local church. I recognized at the time that it was ironic; I was following a call into the ordained ministry and consequently shutting myself off further from the non-Christian world. And I was not only ceasing to be a Christian presence among the gamer community; I was shutting myself off from my buddies.
I have friends at seminary and even an 'accountability partner'. It's nice to have colleagues, and to grow close to them. But I miss having sheer buddies.