The Squeezings of my Brain Grapes.
My Friends In Ministry Are Sleeping In The Same Bed. What Do I Do?

weazworldwide asked you:
hey jed, a friend and i both have friends who are christians in ministry positions but are sleeping in the bed with their girlfriend/boyfriend. they say they’re not having sex and that temptation isn’t an issue, but how should we feel about that? can you suggest any bible passages that may be helpful in talking to them about the issue? love your blog!

Jed Brewer replied:

Hey Weaz,

Sharing a bed, eh?

Well, look, here’s the go-to Bible verse for something like this, but I’d encourage you to read all the way to the end of this post before you act on it:

“Abstain from all appearance of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:22, KJV)

The Bible is clear that we should work hard to have a good reputation (c.f. 1 Tim 3:7), and avoiding things that needlessly set other people off is part of that.  Yes, you can sleep in the same bed as someone without having sex.  I can also use an old Jack Daniels bottle to sip water out of while I’m walking on my way to church.  But I don’t do that, because it’s a dumb idea.

You asked how you should feel about what your friends are doing.  I think you should feel that it’s a dumb idea on multiple levels.  It looks really hinky, it *does* increase the level of temptation, and there’s no good reason for it.  However, that doesn’t mean that you should be doing anything about it.

Your friends know this is a bad call on their part.  They do.  And they’re choosing to do it anyway.  They’re also, apparently, telling other people that they’re doing it, which is really, really not good.  Thing is, the person who should be confronting them about this is the person who put them into whatever ministry positions they hold.

This is a situation where your friends need to be rebuked.  They’re wrong, they know they are, and they’re doing it anyway.  That’s not a time for discussion and considering some interesting Bible verses.  That’s a time for dropping the hammer.  I should note that I’m saying this precisely because these are folks in ministry leadership.  We all have struggles, but leadership requires a higher standard of accountability.

This rebuke needs to have some authority behind it.  In other words, it needs to be a word from the boss.  If that isn’t you, then I’d think and pray long and hard before I tried to get in there and deliver one.  ‘Cause I don’t think it would go well.

What you definitely should do is be praying for your friends.  I’ve been around long enough to tell you that the odds are high that this is not gonna end well for them, on a lot of levels.  And they’ll need all the prayer and support they can get, and good friends that will keep on believing in them.

How Do I Know When Rules For People In Ministry Leadership Are Over The Line?

rlb2011 asked you:
Hey, what’re you’re thoughts on enforcing rules on people who are in a place of leadership in a ministry setting? (for ex: the leader must be regularly attending church is one that most people think should be enforced, but what about other rules) I know you can’t judge someone’s heart, and I also know that people who are in the place of greatly influencing others and representing Christ should be held to a higher standard, but where is the line?

Jed Brewer replied:

Hey Sis,

This is a great question.

The Bible is clear that there are requirements for leadership in ministry (1 Timothy chapter 3 is a good example), and that these requirements are in place in order to protect the person (James 3:1), the folks they’re leading (1 John 3:7), and the reputation of the church with people outside of the church (1 Thess 4:11-12).

But, of course, how the “requirements for leadership in ministry” should work in a given situation is not a black-and-white thing.  Even in the Bible, there are moments where Paul makes clear that he’s giving an instruction that he personally thinks is a good idea, but isn’t claiming God’s endorsing it.  (See 1 Corinthians 7:10-12)

And, certainly, the idea of “rules” for people in ministry have been massively abused throughout the history of the Church.  Power corrupts, unfortunately.

So, where does that leave us? 

Rather than worrying about all the ways this can go wrong (which are legion), let me paint a picture of how it works when it goes right.  I would suggest two ideas for your consideration.

First, yes, you are to respect the authority over you in a given church or ministry environment.  However, you should only submit yourself to an authority that has earned your trust and respect.

Let’s say that you are a leader with the college group at your church, and your church has certain expectations of you because of your leadership position.  Fine.  But this can only work properly if the pastor of that church has, in fact, been a pastor to you.  By that, I mean: if the pastor has counseled you personally, has encouraged you personally, has gotten on his knees before God and received wisdom and discernment about the kind of person you were made to be, and has employed that wisdom in order to help guide you into a place of destiny in your life.  During that process, this pastor would have helped you work through fears, doubts, insecurities, old hurts, bad habits, wounds, grievances, and hang-ups.  He would have done this all successfully, of course, or, otherwise, you wouldn’t be ready to be in a place of leadership.

If this person has truly been a pastor to you, then you would hold him in an esteem that would mean submitting to his organizational authority would be a no-brainer.

That’s thing number one.  Thing number two is this:

The requirements for leadership should be based on what the mission requires, and you should wholeheartedly believe in the mission.

The only reason to be in leadership in ministry is because you want to see people get closer to the Lord – because you have a burden in your heart to see hurting people be ministered to and set free.

If that’s the place you’re coming from, you’ll find yourself doing three-quarters of the “requirements” without anyone telling you to do so.  You’ll sense that you need to be credible on your mission field, set a good example, and not present stumbling blocks to the people you love and have a burden for, and you’ll simply do what’s necessary to hook that up.

The stuff that doesn’t occur to you will, of course, come from the leadership that has earned your trust and respect.  And when they explain the rationale for a “rule” and ask you to abide by it, you’re very unlikely to have any problem with it.

And that leads us to a closing thought: you don’t need to settle for less than authority that earned your trust and respect, and a mission that you wholeheartedly believe in.  It’s a big world, and there’s a lot of ministry to be done.  If what you’re trying isn’t firing on both of those cylinders, start looking for something new.  Feel free to message me to talk more details on your specific situation.