Coffee at the Cracker Barrel
Ministry will inevitably take its toll on even the strongest and mature of men. Eventually, every person who seeks to do ministry in Christâ€™s name will undergo temptations, trials, and ministry circumstances that will change them. Life has a way of being a blessing and a curse at the same time. In these times, God is always working in the life of His disciple â€“ always.
I met with a new friend this week who shared his heart with me (it was deeper than the cursory sports, weather, jokes, etc., topics); he was feeling beat down and was discouraged. He is a man who has a huge vision to do things for God, but has a host of obstacles laid before him that seem to be a blockade to his ministry. As we talked over coffee and â€œthe Old Timersâ€™â€ breakfast, I realized that he just needed someone to talk to. In ministry it is not always easy to find someone who you can bear your soul to. Trust is something that is hard to come by.
As a leader you canâ€™t honestly speak openly with those whom you lead; they may doubt your integrity or ability to make decisions. You canâ€™t talk with your spouse about truly weighing issues because a man tries to protect those he loves (especially his wife). So who does this leave in a ministerâ€™s life? If you invest a majority of your time in your ministry, church, and family, there is little time left to invest in a friendship with someone. Therefore, many in ministry are lonely and left feeling all alone.
I have been blessed by God at my new place of ministry, but was especially blessed this week with finding a friend in ministry that I can walk with in friendship.
Those in ministry need
three different types of relationships with other men. 
1. The first type of relationship that men need is a â€œPaul.â€ This is a person who realizes that they are consciously investing their knowledge and experience into another person. Every ministering man should submit themselves to the guidance and wisdom of a mentor. This â€œPaulâ€ will take you with them on their ministry journey, and will coach you in yours.
This person is someone you esteem and respect for his many years of faithful service to Christ. This relationship can be â€œofficialâ€ and structured or spontaneous and casual â€“ but the important thing is that you have someone who you highly respect that you can bounce ideas off of, ask hard questions of, and can model your life after.
The apostle Paul regularly took people with him on his missionary journeys. Who is a â€œPaulâ€ that can coach you in your ministry?
2. The second type of needed relationship is a â€œTimothy.â€ No matter how long you have been in ministry you have learned something that you can pass on to someone else. We must invest ourselves in the lives of other men in ministry to help them to be a success. The apostle Paul refers to Timothy as, â€œbeloved and faithful son in the Lordâ€ (1 Cor. 4:17). This was a relationship of spiritual father to a spiritual son.
And in Acts 16:3 we see that Paul desires to take him along as a traveling companion. I have been extremely blessed by God with the ability to have gone to seminary and have completed my doctoral work. But even more important than that are the ministry experiences that seem very common among my brothers, like high school Bible questions â€“ you have heard them all after a while. 
There are ways to deal with change, unruly people, mean people, etc. that in ministry are the â€œtricks of the trade.â€ I was also blessed early on in my ministry to have had some men who allowed me to journey with them in ministry and I learned a lot about what it means to love people and shepherd a flock from watching them in action.
3. The third type of needed relationship is a â€œBarnabas.â€ In Scripture, Barnabasâ€™ given name was Joseph, but the early church called him, â€œSon of Encouragementâ€ or Barnabas. He traveled with the apostle Paul and in most cases was equal in their role in the church. It was Barnabas who originally brought Paul into the church and gave him the â€œok.â€
They traveled together, and even argued over who they should take (i.e. John Mark in Colossians 4:10). The main idea is that these men were equal in standing, ministered together, and were a source of encouragement to each other.
You are not going to argue with your mentor, or your protÃ©gÃ©, but you will with your comrade in arms; you have enough love and respect to confront him when he is wrong. In some circles this is called an accountability partner. This is a friend, who also is in ministry, that you draw strength from, and give encouragement to.
All three of these relationships are needed in a ministerâ€™s life, and none will develop unless some effort is made on your part to move the relationship forward. So, pray first, and ask God to make these relationships clear to you and then make some effort to build these friendships.
 I recognize that women also serve in ministry. Since I am a man, I can not honestly speak to what a woman needs in ministry. Men and Women are worlds apart, and I am just now figuring out what I need in ministry. Not, only that, but we are talking about â€œfeelingsâ€ so give me a break.
 Questions like, â€œwhere did Cainâ€™s wife come from?â€ or â€œif God is so good, then why does he allow so much suffering?â€ or â€œwhat about those who have never heard of Jesus or the gospel?â€