Six Relationships Every Pastor Needs
This book found its way into my Vyrso reader, and I can’t recall if it was gift or if it came within my Logos package deal. However I received it, I was very glad to have found and read it, for the truths Jimmy Dodd shares in Survive or Thrive are essential for every pastor, whether personable or not. Dodd breaks his book down into three parts: the first describing a pastor’s need for close relationships and accountability; the second defining the six recommended relationships of Boss, Trainer, Coach, Counselor, Mentor, and Friend; and the third challenging the pastor first to repent of whatever has prevented him from giving a “backstage pass” to someone close and next to begin the liberating journey toward openness.
This book highlighted plenty of my own weaknesses, and I will certainly make this a must-recommend to all my pastor friends. For this brief review, though, I’d simply light to record how his various sections impacted me, beginning with Parts 2 and 3.
In Part 2, Dodd describes in six chapters the pastor’s need for these six relationships. He defines how each relationship affects a pastor’s life and then cushions these definitions with personal anecdotes and a surface-scratching of “how-to”. In all honestly, however, I felt these chapters were a bit weak in content. He had but a few pages into which to stuff whole volumes of information, and better books exist which can dissect these roles more clearly, but as a mere introduction, this Part is at least sufficient.
In Part 3, Dodd emphasizes the need for a pastor to repent truly and deeply of whatever sins he’s accepted and hidden from the view of others, of whatever lies from Satan he’s believed, and of whatever selfishness he’s prized above the need for accountability in his life. Dodd’s contrast between repentance and mere penance was especially helpful to me.
In Part 1, Dodd expounds upon what is really the crown jewel of this book and the theme which every single Christian worker needs to hear: that we all live a front-stage, back-stage life and very rarely if ever let our congregations or even “friends” peek behind the curtain of our public selves. The first-hand anecdotes he shares from his many years of counseling pastors through his organization PastorServe hit home for me far more often than I want to admit. Their poignancy illustrates the harsh reality that every pastor faces: a seminary degree doesn’t guarantee success in our war against sin, ordination doesn’t free us from the power of the flesh, and being the pastor to many doesn’t automatically make us close to anyone. In fact, many pastors would argue that further biblical education enhances the violent dangers that this battle with sin promises, ordination and titles merely offer a veneer of righteousness atop our flesh which is still very alive, and position serves more to distance us from those we serve than to endear us to them in any profitable sense of the word.
This look at the front-stage, back-stage phenomenon sets the stage for Dodd’s quick look at the six necessary relationships, and I find that I’m only batting about .333. While I feel that I have an excuse for lacking four of these relationships, I know that it’s precisely that: an excuse. With communication as it is these days, my distance from aged and godly men does not give me the right to stop pursuing their guidance, love, and advice. Dodd has opened my eyes to this need once more, and I thank him for it.
I truly do recommend this book to pastors everywhere, and if you only have a short time, skip Part 2, but devour Parts 1 and 3. Your ministries and inner beings will be eternally grateful you did.