Thinking Out Loud

December 1, 2018

Both Disgraced and Silenced

This morning I noticed in one of my “to-be-read-or-watched” piles a curriculum DVD by a pastor whose career was caught up among the #MeToo cases of the past two years.

The thing that struck me was that I had no desire to watch it now. I’m sure the teaching it contains is every bit as valid as the day it was recorded. It was vetted at the time by one of the top Christian publishing houses. No one has ever suggested he taught anything heretical.

However, I couldn’t help but think how in addition to the disgrace he suffered — and no doubt continues to suffer this very day — he has lost his voice; he has effectively been marginalized. Among the many voices competing for your attention his has become far less impactful; far less consequential. Though citations of his methodology and quotations of his messages might approach the one million mark online, for me to quote him now in an essay or blog article would simply lead readers to wonder, ‘Perhaps he hasn’t heard what happened.’…

…The whole #MeToo thing is a valid opportunity to examine your own life. In my 20s, I was known for an itinerant youth ministry that connected me to dozens of churches, a handful of missions, and a couple of camps. I found myself replaying events and scenarios in order to remind myself that fortunately, lines were never crossed. Blurred? The opportunities and motivation didn’t really present themselves. I can think of a couple of situations where a person could, if they so desired, misconstrue a couple of situations, but then that is true for all of us because anyone can pretty much make up anything.

Everyone reading this knows what follows (I hope) but here are some principles for anyone new to the game:

  1. Stay accountable. This was hard in itinerant ministry and without a board, but fortunately I had some people I could defer to for direction.
  2. Avoid being alone 1:1 with the people you’re serving. Always leave the door open to the office, or, as I did once, if you’re meeting in your car, park it right at the front entrance to the building.
  3. Avoid anything which could even contain the hint of something scandalous. This includes things done seemingly in jest.
  4. When working with youth, remember that a leadership role can be inferred (by the child/teen) even if it is not official. The same responsibilities rest with casual volunteers as rest with paid staff.
  5. Be ever conscious of your personal vulnerabilities to temptation. If you’re even thinking the thought, you’ve already started down a dangerous path.

 

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