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FIRST-PERSON: Avoid even a hint of immorality

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–I had an awkward situation a few years ago. My doctor prescribed a sleep study (part of some health tests I was doing in preparation for a new health regimen). The tech called me to arrange the details. She did not seem to have many details about the clinic, so I asked some questions. One of which was the setting — in this case it was an office building with several faux bedrooms where they would wire me up and measure me sleeping.

I asked about the staff, and she was “it.”

Then came that awkward moment. I knew she would not understand it, but I explained, “I can’t come if it is just you and me in the building.” It was awkward and I am guessing few ever said such a thing. So, I skipped out on my study.

It might seem silly to you, but let me encourage you to not see it as such. Many of you who read this are young pastors. I know too many pastors who have lost great credibility because of an accusation (let alone an indiscretion).

I am not irresistible. I have a great face for radio. I do not think that anyone will swoon over me. But, I do not know the stability, morality and disposition of people that I meet.

When I told my wife what I had done, I thought she might slap me. She has been excited about my health plans. However, she was the opposite. She felt protected and affirmed. She knew I would not put our family in jeopardy.

I remember Danny Akin once saying that he would not pick up a woman on the side of the road in the rain if her car broke down. He would never be alone with a woman who was not his wife. It seemed a bit selfish until he told the rest of the story. He would pull over and give her the keys and let her drive where she needed to be.

Guarding yourself takes work, can be awkward and is often inconvenient. But, one problem averted makes it a good stewardship of your life, ministry and family.

At the churches I planted, we always used something like Saddleback’s staff “Ten Commandments”:

1. “Thou shalt not go to lunch alone with the opposite sex.

2. “Thou shalt not have the opposite sex pick you up or drive you places when it is just the two of you.

3. “Thou shalt not kiss any attender of the opposite sex or show affection that could be questioned.

4. “Thou shalt not visit the opposite sex alone at home.

5. “Thou shalt not counsel the opposite sex alone at the office, and thou shalt not counsel the opposite sex more than once without that person’s mate. Refer them.

6. “Thou shalt not discuss detailed sexual problems with the opposite sex in counseling. Refer them.

7. “Thou shalt not discuss your marriage problems with an attender of the opposite sex.

8. “Thou shalt be careful in answering emails, instant messages, chatrooms, cards or letters from the opposite sex.

9. “Thou shalt make your co-worker your protective ally.

10. “Thou shalt pray for the integrity of other staff members.”

(The first three do not apply to unmarried staff.)

I hope you have a list like this for your own life and ministry.

“But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality…” (Ephesians 5:3).
Ed Stetzer is vice president of research and ministry development for LifeWay Christian Resources. This column first appeared at his blog, EdStetzer.com.

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  • Ed Stetzer