Accusations were made against a prominent pastor recently, Bishop Eddie Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA. I don’t want to speculate on the truthfulness of the accusation, and I do believe the truth will prevail. Regardless of the outcome of this it makes you reflect on what safeguards were put into place?
I don’t stand in judgment of him or any other pastor who have fallen or have a mark on their ministry due to being accused. I don’t because I am a man with clay feet. I also know that in my profession it would be extremely easy to be accused of sexual misconduct which is why I have numerous safeguards in place. I do this both for protection, and to guard my heart because I know I’m a man with clay feet. I know that only by the grace of God go I. I am not immune there is no temptation that isn’t common to man, (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Let me talk to the guys for a second. Gentlemen, the second you think you are immune from any of this – watch out! Don’t give Satan a foothold in your pride. We must be diligent in guarding our hearts, as we see in Proverbs:
for they are life to those who find them
and health to a man’s whole body.
Above all else, guard your heart,
for it is the wellspring of life.
Put away perversity from your mouth;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips, (Proverbs 4:22-24, NIV)
So what steps are you taking to guard your heart? What safeguards are you putting into place? How does your church provide accountability for your pastors, staff and lay leadership?
Here are a few “hedges” (a great resource is Hedges: Loving Your Marriage Enough To Protect It by Jerry Jenkins) for me:
- Why wife has access to my schedule and knows who I’m meeting with.
- My job does requires sometimes meeting with females either for volunteer recruitment or working with a staff member. I always do so publically, do it during the day, and try to do it in the context of a group if possible.
- I won’t mentor a member of the opposite sex.
- I don’t flirt, there may be times I seem like a stick in the mud, but I don’t want to leave the wrong impression.
- Zero physical contact with the kids I work with the exception of a hand shake or a pat on the back regardless of gender. With adults (other than family) pretty much the same with an occasional hug and if that happens it is always in public.
- My wife sees my phone bill, has access to my email and can see my computer’s browser history.
- I have two guys in my life that I can talk to and they can ask me anything in order to provide accountability.
As a youth pastor I also had some additional hedges in place.
- If I ever had to counsel a female I would only do it when my secretary was in and would have my door open. I generally preferred not doing that, but sometimes it was unavoidable.
- Generally tried to avoid giving girls a ride home from youth group, but on the handful of times I had to I would call my wife right before leaving and explain what I was doing. That way she knew how long I was gone. (This was obviously before I had a cell phone).
As a church we implemented…
- A two-adult rule.
- Guys worked with guys, girls with girls
None of that is exhaustive, but again knowing that I am not immune I want to be diligent. We need to be serious about this.