If you are like me, nothing really surprises you anymore! My inbox frequently contains stories about another moral failure in a marriage, a life, or a ministry leader. My heart is saddened and sobered every single time. I find it sad because I know the damage that has already been done and the damage that is yet to come. I find it sobering because I know that none of us are exempt from temptation and possible failure. Do you have any safe-guards in place to help you? Are you taking any steps to protect yourself from temptation, accusation, or failure? Here are some steps I have taken in an attempt to help me and those who serve with me to stay above reproach.
- I do my best to never travel alone. For much of our ministry, my wife and family has traveled with me. We lived in a fifth-wheel travel trailer for 16 years and we were always together. That was invaluable! When my family was unable to travel with me, I would either take one of my children with me or one of the young men I was mentoring. As a result, I have seldom been alone in a motel room or in a strange town. Obviously not everyone can make this happen, but it was perfect for me and my family.
- When I do have to travel alone, I endeavor to have a purity plan in place. I try to make my schedule known, especially to my wife and to those with whom I am serving. I unplug the television in my motel room. I stay in public as much as possible by having meals, studying, writing, and taking care of any office type work in a public place like a motel lobby, coffee shop, or church conference room. I work out daily. I talk frequently to those at home. I Marco Polo my children. I schedule meals with pastors and others I may know who live nearby (never a woman alone for any reason). In other words, I may be traveling alone, but I do everything in my power to be with others.
- I work at practicing accountability. I am accountable to my wife. She can ask me anything and she has access to all of my internet connected devices. I am accountable to my ministry team. I am accountable to our board-run ministry. I am accountable to those whom I serve. I report to several different friends on a regular basis. Oddly enough, this is easier said than done, primarily because we are such a busy generation and connecting with each other takes time and also because many see accountability as only needed if they are struggling in some area. Nothing is further from the truth. I recommend scheduling it weekly or even monthly. Accountability doesn’t solve everything, but it provides a way to address issues while they are minuscule and easily corrected. Having genuine conversations with trusted friends is not only a blessing, it is a wonderful help in this vital area.
- I use technology as wisely as possible. All of us know that it is an essential part of our lives today. I am writing this blog on my MacBook, texting via my iPhone with the pastor I am serving this week, and studying for this week’s messages on my iPad. Technology can certainly make my life easier. It can also be abused. So, we have to use it wisely. I have filtering accountability on every internet connected device we own. We only watch television or movies on purpose and as a family. I work to guard my time on social media, scheduling specific times each day to “catch-up” and “connect” but refusing to allow it to captivate my attention for hours at a time. I take social media fasts periodically just to free-up my time and also to remind myself that the world doesn’t have to know my opinion on every social media post. I also give my wife and several friends passwords to all of my devices. Technology can be very dangerous, and I want to be very wise.
- I pray daily about purity and holiness. Here are a few of my daily meditation verses: Psalm 51:10; 2 Chronicles 16:9; James 1:5 combined with James 3:17; and Psalm 19:14. I review these in my morning meditations and pray for the Holy Spirit to lead me and empower me to live them. I believe the truth that if I walk in the Spirit, I will not fulfill the sinful desires of my flesh (Galatians 5:16).
- I work on my marriage. Bethlie and I continually invest in our relationship. We walk together daily. We eat together, pray together, serve together, and travel together. We schedule frequent dates. We talk. We drink together (coffee and tea, that is). We worship together. We do everything in our power to keep our romance alive and well. If you are married, I urge you to do the same. If you are single, I urge you to invest heavily in relationships as well. Friends, mentors, parents, and fellow church members are a good place to start!
These are a few things that I do as a way to help me stay above reproach in our sex-addicted culture. What are some things you do? I would love to hear from you.
Thanks for reading.
Your sincere friend,