Les Cotton, Urbana, IL – We have open communication in everything we do. Before we have any meetings with anyone, it’s communicated amongst the ministry team. We avoid being alone with the opposite sex.
We encourage internet filters on all devices. Several members of our team use an app called Habitshare, where we are accountable with our spiritual disciplines. I have a weekly meeting with my bishop, who is a safe person for me. I can talk about whatever I’m dealing with and receive the help that I need without judgement.
Frederick Jackson, Meriden, CT – It’s important to remain consistent in prayer and keep your focus on the fact that the position you hold deserves the greatest level of integrity that you can provide. But even with a prayer life, you must have a “do right” mind in order to maintain a proper level of integrity and spirituality.
None of us are sinless, but we are to be blameless, which means to live your life in a manner that no one can point the finger at you. What’s appropriate and inappropriate tends to come naturally when intentions are honest and holy.
Carlton Coon, Hazelwood, MO – A minister is responsible to protect his or her integrity. It can be assaulted without much recourse. For this reason, a preacher needs to be particularly cautious. I have made it a practice never to counsel a woman while alone. Even personal cards I write to a female guest have my wife or a secretary’s handwriting on the envelope. When I had a secretary employed, the office doors were glass or were left open when we were working. I don’t know that I will apply different principles going forward, but it is necessary to be vigilant.
Archie Beavers, Jacksonville, IL – It’s good that we not put ourselves in position to be accused. The devil uses it as a tool to discredit the ministry. He is capitalizing on the culture and society, and it’s a time of accusation. It’s not limited to one denomination and is happening everywhere.
Use common wisdom. Don’t put yourself in a position where you don’t have witnesses. Keep the door open, but be as private as possible to protect the interest of the person being counseled. Don’t become that personal attachment where they start to connect with you beyond the pastoral level. Keep that separation that you are there to pastor them. Don’t let your good be evil spoken of.
Today you can be accused by any gender, and I think that is something we lose sight of. The fact that you’re counseling another guy doesn’t eliminate the risk. Now when I counsel a man, I treat it the same as I would if I were counseling a female.
Eric Brown, Moss Point, MS – You’ve got to be cognizant of who you allow in your circle. Investigate who it is that wants to be close to you in your leadership positions. If there is no reason for them to be in your immediate circle, don’t allow them to be there. These days, it doesn’t have to be the opposite sex that can bring a ministry down.
You have to check your own integrity. If you see yourself with a weakness, protect yourself by not allowing people to get close to you who could cause you problems in that area. Be determined that you’re not going to allow anybody to come into your ministry and destroy it.
I was falsely accused recently. Someone came up with a trumped-up profile and put it on Facebook. It was proven to be a fake. As a result of that incident, there are certain people I just don’t allow to hang around me.
You can’t prevent a lie. You just have to live above it so people will say, “I really don’t believe that.” As my dad always used to tell me, “Let it be a lie.”
John Martin, Muncie, IN – I guard myself by obviously having a very strong fear of God. I also am very, very open and candid with my wife; more than the norm. I tell her absolutely everything and I mean everything, including a thought that might run through my mind.
Message to single young men: don’t ever be alone with an underage girl. And to a married man, call your wife on her cell if you are in a difficult spot and keep her on the phone until you are alone again.