Submitted by Marie Onwubuariri
In the March 2017 issue of the Wisconsin Baptist, I wrote a brief article focused on the
Lent season and referenced “Soul Friends.” Yes, Lent is far behind us, but the importance of
having soul friends still ring true and clear in the height of this summer. Author Debra K.
Farrington defines soul friends as those who “listen more deeply for God’s call to us, who are
comfortable waiting for God’s wisdom to be revealed rather than jumping in with their own
opinion…[people] who see with the eyes and ears of the heart, with compassion, concern, and clarity.
They are the ones who, when we think our only choices are to go forward or backward on the wheel,
can help us discover that perhaps God is calling us to step off the wheel and go in a whole new
direction.” (Hearing With The Heart ©2003 pg. 121-2).
Recently I had the privilege of walking with a soul friend during an important
discernment season. This privilege reminded me that as ministers we go through periods of
big-decision- making, risk-taking, questioning, dreaming, struggling, and many other delicate
moments that just cannot be shared with a wide group of people. Experiences we face are
often uniquely complicated by our ministry call, role, and responsibilities, and thus we find that
perhaps only others who have sensitivities to these unique considerations can truly empathize
and provide a clear listening ear and/or wise counsel.
Yet I have also been recently reminded through several encounters that ministers also
suffer silently, without a soul friend to share their burden. You need not look far to find an
article, study, or even personal testimony about pastoral/ministerial isolation, depression, and
Only you can discern and nurture soul-friend relationships, but your regional ministry
staff and Ministers Council Wisconsin chapter are also here to facilitate connectedness and
fellowship. Let us know how we can be of support.