HEALTHY PASTOR........Members Relationship and the Rules


Relationship in the House of God. 
  • The devil has no respect for your title!
  • Inappropriate intimacy leads to a fall.

An affair between a minister of the gospel and a member seems to be on the increase and a lot of people are asking why it seems common for men of faith to fall easily into adultery these days. Why have the ministers of God become so vulnerable to the antics of women that it is becoming difficult for them to resist the temptation from the women?

"He who commits adultery lacks knowledge, he who does it destroys himself"-Proverbs 6:32. Adultery is destructive, having many consequences on both sides so that when pastors break their boundaries and begin to have sexual relations with the souls they are expected to nurture in the ways of the Lord, it is always shameful.

Some of the dangers of this breach of trust is that it is likely to happen again in the lives of the two of them. Adultery is not the end, it is the beginning of the journey, a loophole the devil has opened to deal with the person.  Adultery can give rise to separation, divorce and even untimely death depending on the turn of events.

Healthy relationships
How is that men of God no longer have the discernment of Spirit to know ' a handshake is getting close to the elbow'.  Or can we say that they do not know how to have healthy relationships with women who are not their wives?, since when did this start.  That a married man does not know how to relate with other women, even when his wife is there to assist him with female issues in the church.

The truth is that in the church, there are many people who are not born again and their dressing speech and actions show they are not born again.  These people men or women are not different from every other unbeliever you can meet in the office, market place etc.  In relating to such people, caution is always advised because they may not have moral restraints to get close to a person without either seducing or enticing the person.

If you have gone out on Evangelism with unbelievers or new converts, you will understand what I am talking about.  The way they handle issues, their word, speech and action are sometimes spiritually weak, so there is a need for spiritual maturity at the other end to mitigate any error.

Appropriate rules and boundary
A lot of men of God prefer not to have any relationship with female members at all, thereby channelling every inquiry, question and counselling to their wife or church officials because of what they know Satan can use a woman close to their target to do.  So, without a normal and healthy relationship in places, any woman that breaks through the relationship wall may try to impress the Minister, which may lead to emotional or physical barriers being crossed. 

When I was growing up, I was never open to giving women a lift in my car.  I was being careful with the daughters of Eve because some of them have honey-coated tongue and some others know just how to hit at your weak point.  Some Pastors still do this even today. 

Apostle Paul gave one of the most instructive biblical instruction on platonic relationships to Timothy.  He says  “Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity” - 1 Timothy 5:1-2. This instruction is a classic one for Pastors and all officers of the house of God.  No matter how your members love you, the relationship must be at arm's length, with all purity, otherwise, the Minister is joking.

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If we take Apostle Paul counsel forward, it means there should be an honest relationship of respect for each other.  There should be provision for the Minister to share thoughts, joke and laugh at some level with members. What cannot be ignored is that there must be relationship boundaries set and respected. 

Adultery in Church
Adultery in the church graduates from the same relationship needs we share on small and big matters, which people elevate it to the level of intimacy, lusting after themselves in their heart and waiting for a small opening to admire themselves.  This admiration is the loophole the devil waits for.

Given the position of influence the pastors have in their communities, adultery violates the trust he has with his congregation, marriage, and violates church rules that is expected to provide a friendly and yet holy environment.

Avoid close intimacy 
The relationship between brother and sister, Pastor and members should never get to the intimacy level, where personal details and experiences are discussed because when that happens, you are in a relationship already that is contrary to the Word of God for a Pastor, prophet to have with church members. An intimate relationship is very risky with any opposite sex that is not your spouse.  Whether it is at the church, office or business place, it opens the door for affection and emotional heartbeat that bubble into something many cannot control and prevent.

There is no need to build trust and get mutual with the opposite sex that is not your spouse in the church of God. Such relationship remains inappropriate for both persons but especially destructive to the Pastor, who is entrusted with a duty of nurturing the members before God and man. The general rule (Though unwritten) has been: Never ride alone in a car with a woman, never meet behind closed doors with a woman, watch your closeness to the opposite sex and "take your eyes off ladies, who are not your wife".

Over the years, this simple caution has worked well where there is mutual respect and fear of God.  The church is not a place to fall into the error of secret sin, it brings down the fire and the wall of protection for the church and its members.  This is why I am against Choirs, Ushers and protocol wearing provocative and tight dresses. The house of God should be kept holy and this can happen when all members reverence God and have to respect for the rules in the church.  

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Intimacy doors
In our daily interactions, we open and close each one an appropriate amount, depending on the type of relationship. Chatting happily with an Usher opens an emotional door. Counselling a lady alone for a long time could open an emotional door as well, especially when she begins to discuss her husbands' weaknesses and personal problems, an area that lustful women like discussing with Pastors. Counselling a woman alone as a Pastor, without your wife or a matured woman is not acceptable behaviour as it opens the Pastor up to the intrigues of women.

There are things we do together at home to open doors of love and affection, so the marriage and family can stay deeply connected with one another, that cannot be done with even the spirit-filled female PA in the church.  When you share some information with your female PA, she could see it as intimacy and a possible love and interest in her person. This is the most important knowledge a woman needs to start coming close to the man, whether he is a Pastor or not, except the woman is not interested.

There is a situation where a female member shows interest in a Pastor or a member with her actions and behaviour.  At such times, the Pastor or member should promptly discourage the lady discretely and close the loophole. Each of these doors is connected to the others--when one is wide open it pulls to open the others. Young couples becoming intellectually and spiritually intimate naturally invites more emotional or physical intimacy, and vice versa.

Church Rules
Many times the head of the Choir and Ushering group would have a running battle with ladies and distracting people in the church. Luckily, I work for a church where we have safe environments to collaborate, grow as a team, and have fun. I have dodged a number of awkward conversations with the opposite sex when it is getting too personal. 

Whether you are single or married, if you don't set relationship boundaries for yourself, you would not know when you will fall into sin and grievous error. I am always amazed at some men, who are not careful in their relationship with women.  They are not nervous, neither uncomfortable with the opposite and can invite a woman to their office for discussion at any time.  You are joking.  Whether you are a Pastor or minister, the devil is smarter than you.  But when you respect yourself and operate within the boundary you set for yourself, you will do well.

Causes of Infidelity
There has been growing concern about the number of moral failings and integrity lapses concerning Church Pastors.  It is easy to conclude that it is the devil that is doing this evil to the church  But on a second note, what if a Minister is not well trained and possessing the right level of discipline to handle cunning women.  What if there are no rules in the church for a relationship among members.  These two provisions should be in place and well understood by Church workers.

The following factors contribute to the falling of Pastors into adultery:

1. Weak Character.
When the pressure of a role is greater than the character of the person in the role, the person in the role is likely to crumble. Because of the weight of leading God’s people, we are warned in Scripture to “not be quick to appoint anyone as an elder” [I Timothy 5:22]. Some articulate that the scope and size of the church increase the pressure leaders face, while others point to the sheer volume of work on a pastor in a small church who has no staff (those pastors literally do everything). The reality is that all ministry leaders face intense pressure.

2. Overconfidence 
Some ministers are so confident they know how to relate with the opposite sex that even when their spouses are warning them, they ignore it and continue.  This is very risky and often leads to their downfall.

3. The enemy is cunning.
Satan is “prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour” (I Peter 5:8). He looks for anyone, not just ministry leaders. But when Satan devours a ministry leader, he also harms the church and makes it weak and vulnerable.

4. Intellectual Intimacy
Intellectually, like many vocations, pastors can be very busy people, finding it difficult to make time to invest at home or even just relax. That's a normal hazard of many professionals. But pastors may be told that meeting the needs of the church is God's work and his (or her) first calling in life, even before family. He may spend long hours discussing church work at the office and have limited time for intellectual intimacy at home and sharing common interests with the spouse and kids. Such a misplaced vocation leaves home life taken for granted and intellectual intimacy withering.

5. Emotional Intimacy
Emotionally, the minister is often the first person to hear about the concerns and heartaches of his congregation. That requires an unusual amount of emotional investment as part of the job. A pastor who is not careful with trying to support an opposite may be drawn into an intimate relationship if he goes at it alone.  

Physical Intimacy
Physically, a pastoral role constantly calls for some level of physical presence. It might be a hand on the shoulder during prayer, or a closed-door for private confession and conversation, or even just being a leader who stands in front of people and is constantly seen. Being physically present is an important part of spiritual care. But, escalating physical privacy or finding excuses to spend time with someone who is already intellectually or emotionally close should be a major warning sign that a relationship is becoming inappropriately intimate.

Home in Crisis
The home is expected to be the foundation and strength of any Pastor, but when there is constant disagreement at home, relationship cracks and all that that leaves the couple lonely, then the Pastor may see himself sharing some of his intimate information with his employees, PA and other close persons.  Such is a dangerous loophole the devil will easily use to woo the Pastor to a wrong person for an inappropriate relationship.

Ways out

Man of faith
Be a man or woman of faith and stay strong in your relationship with God. A minister who is more focused on personal leadership skills rather than on God's glory is walking into temptation. A pastor should not be arrogant, but remember they are but a fragile, broken tool in God's toolbox.

Happy and cordial home
Let the home be full of love and growth.  Let the Pastor and his wife be one person in Christ with the best of intimacy and affection, so the Pastor is not lonely, neither the wife.  Pastors and ministers should cultivate healthy relationships at home that allow for all the doors of intimacy to be open. 

Invest at home first and foremost so you are strengthened for dealing with others. You can share the concerns on your heart without violating confidentiality. You can discuss feeling overwhelmed by the needs of the congregation without spelling out what each need is.

If your marriage is unhappy, get help, and get it now. Your marriage is for life, and it comes before your ministry. If your marriage falters, your ministry will crash. If anyone has not been investing well at home, increasing outside emotional and spiritual intimacy may invite inappropriate physical intimacy with the wrong person.

Establish boundaries
Put safeguards on your interactions, especially with those of the opposite sex. Meet privately with a parishioner only a limited number of times before referring to a counsellor. Avoid working alone with someone of the opposite sex--it is better to have multiple members of teamwork together if possible. Make sure your office door has a window to allow greater accountability while still allowing for a confidential conversation.

Avoid sharing your personal challenges
Avoid sharing your personal challenges about your spouse with coworkers. This is a red flag for any marriage, a sign that emotional investments are being made in the wrong place. Find a mentor or counsellor instead.

Be aware of your emotional state, and consider explicitly how you are being intimate with others. The doors of intimacy reinforce one another. With whom are you intellectually or emotionally close at work? How will you manage the other doors? There are natural pressures on intimacy for pastors, which makes it all the more crucial you intentionally cultivate and protect them.

Fear God
There are things you do not need to see or touch, there are conversations you do not need to enter into; there are even faces you do not need to look at, talk less of looking into those eyes and admiring them.

Brethren, as important as we need grace, we must be determined to resist every temptation, even to the point of blood.  Joseph's resistance landed him in jail, but God honoured him there and took him from that prison, straight to the palace.

Be Spirit-led
Infidelity is the test every married man or woman must pass today if they are Christians.  I am amazed at people who are not careful with the opposite sex. Live according to the Word of God, and walk-in Spirit and make no provisions for the flesh.  How long will you be faithful to your spouse and God if you don't have boundaries of behaviour well set and religiously obeyed? You must have strict spiritual and physical borders if you want to remain faithful to God and your spouse.  

There must be some personal DOs AND DON'Ts that guide everyone in marriage. As a child of God and you must insist on biblical standards, else your fall is just a matter of time.  There is nothing good in us, and our human wisdom cannot handle sin and infidelity.


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