People in helping professions are often surrounded by others, but when healthy friendships are not fostered, it can be easy to get caught in a trap of isolation. Co-Director of Worship Arts at College Wesleyan, Jordan Rife sees fostering healthy friendships as a great benefit to worship ministry.

Rife shares the position of director with her husband, Daniel. Because of this, she thinks it is especially important to be intentional about having and investing in good friendships. As the Bible tells us, “The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense” (Proverbs 27:9, NLT).

Some couples may struggle to find time to spend together. To the contrary, Jordan and Daniel have to be intentional about finding other strong men and women of the Lord to speak truth into their lives since they work together on a daily basis.

“As a worship leader, friendships help me to experience Christ. If I believe worship facilitates a conversation between God and his people, then I need to have a sense of what is going on with the people in my congregation,” Rife shared.

Maintaining healthy friendships can be a challenge, but one worth the benefit. Rife explained how playing dual roles in friendships can turn into a balancing act at times. As head of worship, she has more than 150 volunteers, many of whom have become her friends. At times it feels “heavy” to be a “shepherd” and a friend of “sheep” but Rife recognizes community is essential.

Experiencing community and being in meaningful relationships with other Christians is a lifeline for Rife, one helping her to experience and look more like Christ at the end of the day. When Rife is not in community, negativity and fault-finding begin to creep into her life. “We need friendships in our lives to help us be people, and not try to assume too much of God’s power,” she said.

Rife believes being in a community creates accountability and is a means of externally processing. As some say the pastor is the loneliest person in the congregation, Rife believes being intentional about friendships is the key to avoiding isolation. Though she’s heard ministry can be a lonely place, Rife says she hasn’t experienced it firsthand because she deliberately invests in the friendships God has placed in her life.

Rife doesn’t necessarily look for new friendships but trusts God has placed relationships in her life and it’s her job to invest in those.  Investing in a friendship requires recognition of what the other needs. Rife sees herself as a “word” person; when she has a good conversation with a friend, it fulfills her need in the relationship. However, some of her friends need quality time. She is sensitive to the needs of her friends, and even though their needs may differ, she makes it a point to understand what will help her friendships thrive.

Friendships and community shape and form each of us as individuals. Putting intentionality into friendships is essential to staying off a path that leads to bitterness and isolation.