Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Protecting Yourself and Your Leaders from Scandal

I was listening to Rick Warren's podcast this week and was reminded that we as church leaders must be diligent in intentionally protecting ourselves and our leaders from potential moral failure. He spoke with Pastor Ken Baugh (Coast Hills Church) and Pastor John Baker (from Saddleback's Celebrate Recovery ministry).

If you want to listen to it you can find it here: Moral Failure of a Staff Member

Be sure to see the two documents he mentions in the podcast. One is a letter he sent to his congregation after dismissing a staff member for moral failure, What Happens When a Staff Member Falls. The other is the Saddleback Staff Ten Commandments.

I preached on this issue several months ago in a more general sense to our congregation. I was applying this to all Christians. I used these two lists:

8 Safeguards Against Getting too Close (Jill Savage)

1. Choose wisely.
Avoid unnecessarily spending time with someone of the opposite sex. For instance, if you're looking for a personal trainer at the local gym, choose someone of the same sex.

2. Share carefully.
If you find yourself sharing things about yourself or your marriage that you haven't or wouldn't share with your spouse, that's a red flag. Not all affairs are physical-an emotional affair is just as damaging.

3. Stay in large, public settings.
Determine not to meet one-on-one with anyone of the opposite sex. If your coworker asks if he or she can join you for lunch, ask a third person to join you as well. If necessary, don't hesitate to share the boundary you and your spouse have agreed upon in your marriage. You just might lead by example.

4. Don't be naïve.
Most people who end up in affairs don't set out to have one. Infidelity usually begins with an innocent relationship that, in time, moves to an emotional depth that crosses a line of fidelity.

5. Increase your investment at home.
Solid marriages are built by spending time together, laughing together, and playing together. If you aren't dating your mate, set up dates for the coming months and make spending time together a priority.

6. Pay attention to your thought-life.
When all you think about is your spouse's faults, any other man or woman will look better. Make a list of the strengths that initially attracted you to your spouse. Increase encouragement and decrease criticism.

7. Don't play the comparison game.
We all make mistakes, have bad habits and annoying behaviors. When we compare a "new friend" to our spouse, it's an unfair comparison because we aren't seeing that person in a "living under the same roof, taking care of kids at 3 a.m., struggling to make ends meet" reality.

8. Seek help.
Seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. A Christian counselor can provide valuable perspective and help set new strategies for a marriage that can go the distance.

Moral Fences (James MacDonald)

1. I will not, under any circumstances, ride alone in a car with a female other than my wife or an immediate family member.

2. I do not stay alone in a hotel over night.

3. I speak often and publicly of my affection for my wife, when she is present and when she is not.

4. Compliment the character or the conduct - not the coiffure [hairstyle] or the clothing [of someone of the opposite sex].

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