Posted tagged ‘Counseling’

Moral Failure part 1

April 2, 2012

In my last post I mentioned the fact that 1,500 pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention within the church.  I don’t know about you, but I find these numbers to be pretty scary!  Here we are in a world that is lost and dying, yet those of us who are supposed to be leading the charge and training up others for the works of the ministry appear to be dropping like flies.  This is unacceptable and has to stop.  In my next few posts I will be dealing with this issue on the Rural Ministry blog.  Today I want to specifically address the issue of moral failure.

Moral failure can be defined in several ways.  There’s the obvious issue of adultery (or fornication for our unmarried readers), but it doesn’t stop there.  Moral failure also includes things like inappropriate non-sexual relationships and pornography.  None of us entered the ministry planning on having a moral failure.  In fact, I bet the vast majority of us even stated that it would never happen to us.  The first thing we must do to insure it never happens to us is to admit that it could happen to us.  I can’t begin to tell you how many couples I’ve spoken with in the past that were dealing with the issue of adultery that said “I never thought I could do something like that.”  We must realize that, given the right set of circumstances, anyone is capable of anything.

How do we protect ourselves against adultery?  There is one thing necessary for someone to commit adultery – opportunity.  If you eliminate the possibility of opportunity, you virtually eliminate the possibility of adultery.  This, however, is easier said than done.  I’ve heard many pastors say that they are never alone with members of the opposite sex that they are not related to.  While in theory I agree with this concept completely, reality can often times be different.  If you are in a large church, with multiple staff members and set office hours, this can be fairly easy to accomplish.  In rural ministry, however, we do not always have the luxury of staff members and office hours can be sporadic.  Even if we do have staff, that does not mean that they are always present.  I am fortunate enough to have an associate pastor and a secretary, yet there have been many times that I have been alone at church when a woman walks in.  Sometimes it’s someone needing to talk, sometimes it’s a church volunteer coming to do work, sometimes my associate pastor is out and it’s just me and my secretary.  So even though I do my best to avoid being alone with females, on occasion it happens.

So what do we do?  How do we make sure that we do not fail in this area?  Here is a list of suggestions:

1. Make sure you have a strong marriage.  I have spoken with many people over the years that have committed adultery.  In almost every instance, the person had a need that was not being met by their spouse.  That person then started to have that need met by someone else and suddenly things started to progress.  What started out as something seemingly innocent ended up in adultery.  Quite frankly, if my emotional and physical needs are being met by my spouse, I will not have the need or the desire to go anywhere else.  If you are concerned about your marriage, please do your family, your ministry, and yourself a favor by getting help.  If you do not know where to turn, contact me and I can help you find the resources you need.

2. Don’t be stupid. This may sound harsh, but it is a valid warning.  Even though we realize that being alone with a member of the opposite sex is sometimes unavoidable, we also need to be smart about these situations.  Do not purposely seek out a situation in which you will be alone with a member of the opposite sex.  If it happens, it happens, but do not intentionally cause this situation.  Doing so is just simply asking for trouble.

3. Listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit. This may seem obvious, but all too often we can get swept up in the moment and forget to listen to the Holy Spirit.  Only the Holy Spirit knows who is innocently seeking advice and who might have ulterior motives.  Only the Holy Spirit knows which people are emotionally needy and will get an unhealthy attachment to you.  Stay sensitive to the Holy Spirit and respond accordingly to any cautions and warnings.

4. Stay accountable. I try to keep my wife informed when I have met with a female alone.  I tell her who it was, when it was, where it was, and generally the content of our conversation.  I know that some of you are thinking “but what about confidentiality?” In situations like this, I inform the female ahead of time that I will be sharing our conversation with my wife, and only my wife.  I’ve never had anyone complain about that policy, but if I did, I am not sure that I would continue the conversation

One final caution: We need to remember that all it takes is suspicion, not proof, to ruin our reputation.  Do not allow yourself to be put in a situation where suspicions could rise.

How about you – what guidelines have you put in place to avoid moral failure?  Leave a comment below.


Rural Resource – Marriage part 2

June 13, 2011

Each Monday on the Rural Ministry Blog I post a book review, article link, website link, or any other type resource that I think would be of interest to the Rural Ministry community.

Today I want to continue last weeks topic of marriage resources.  In fact, today’s resource is, in my opinion, one of the greatest tools a pastor could have in his arsenal of marriage counseling resources – the Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage DVD series by Pastor Mark Gungor.  I can honestly say that this DVD series changed the way that I approached marriage counseling and increased my effectiveness tremendously.

Pastor Gungor very humorously and effectively deals with some of marriages biggest issues and goes into great detail on the differences in how men’s brains and women’s brains are wired.  He also does a fantastic job dealing with topics like communication & sex, all in a very humorous and entertaining fashion.  I could go on and on touting the benefits of this DVD series but I think the best way for you to find out how great it is would be to watch a clip that I found on YouTube about the whole “Men’s Brains/Women’s Brains” issue.


The Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage DVD costs $59.99 and in my opinion is worth every penny.  You can purchase it by clicking here (uncompensated link)

There are other marriage resources by Pastor mark Gungor that I will be writing about in the future.  If you are aware of any resources, marriage or otherwise, that would be of interest to the Rural Ministry Blog community please let me know!

Disclaimer: The books and articles mentioned on the Rural Ministry Blog are things that I feel contain content relevant to the Rural Ministry community.  This does not necessarily mean that I fully embrace or support everything that the author embraces or supports.  For more information on this topic please read this Rural Ministry blog post – Eat the Meat and Spit Out the Bones

Rural Resource – Marriage part 1

June 6, 2011

I do an extensive amount of reading and often come across very interesting books, articles, blog posts, etc. Each Monday I will be posting a book review or article link that I think would be of interest to the Rural Ministry community.

When I became a pastor I was expecting to preach and teach and felt that I was pretty well prepared to do it. What surprised me was how much counseling I found myself doing. In a rural setting there are not many licensed counselors so the natural reaction of many people is to go to their pastor any time there are problems in their life, family, or marriage. I don’t know about you, but I found myself pretty unprepared for a lot of the counseling that I was being asked to do. I started reading books, listening to teaching tapes, and asking the advice of several people experienced in this area. Through this time of learning I ran across several very good resources. What I want to do over the next few Mondays is share some of the best resources on marriage and relationship counseling that I have discovered.

Today’s resource has been out for some time and is one that I’m sure many of you already have in your library – a book by Dr. Gary Chapman called The Five Love Languages. In my opinion this book is a must read for all pastors. I can honestly say that the concepts in this book radically changed my relationship with my wife and transformed our marriage from a good one to a great one!

The basic concept in the book is that people express and receive love in different ways. Just like there are different spoken languages in the world, there are different “love languages” as well. One of the keys to a great marriage is discovering your spouse’s “love language” and speaking it to them often. Dr. Chapman goes through these different love languages in detail and helps you discover your own love language as well as the love language of your spouse.

The Five Love Languages is available in printed format as well as for the Kindle. You can purchase the book by clicking here

Disclaimer: The books and articles mentioned on the Rural Ministry Blog are things that I feel contain content relevant to the Rural Ministry community.  This does not necessarily mean that I fully embrace or support everything that the author embraces or supports.  For more information on this topic please read this Rural Ministry blog post – Eat the Meat and Spit Out the Bones