Pastor Paul's Blog

Eight Strategies to Stay Above Reproach

Posted by Paul D. Johnson on

Most everyone is aware of what’s happening at Willow Creek Church. The entire leadership team has resigned following numerous accusations of sexual misbehavior by former Senior Pastor, Bill Hybels. The Chicago Tribune has written extensively about these events and you can read their reporting at: https://trib.in/2Oq9x18.

I’m not writing to comment on Willow Creek. Rather, I’d like to use this opportunity to stress accountability. None of us are immune to a fall. We all walk on the edge. Keeping ourselves above reproach is crucial. It is how we can relate to God properly and shine a light on the world. It’s how we can avoid destroying our ministries and families.

The Bible calls for absolute purity. Psalm 23:3-4 tells us: “Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.”

Most leaders desire to be this kind of person. So, the question becomes: How? Here are some simple steps that I follow in my quest to be above reproach:

  1. I think about, and pray for, my wife. She is God’s gift to me. Any husband who begins to think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence has begun to lose the battle.
  2. I always have windows on office doors. Don’t leave people guessing regarding what’s going on inside.
  3. I’m not with a woman alone, aside from my wife, if at all possible. I don’t ride in the car, eat, or meet with a woman alone. I don’t want a spark to be lit and I don’t want others whispering about what we’re doing. We may be perfectly innocent, but if there’s a perception of impropriety, we’re not above reproach.
  4. I consider women as sisters in Christ. The Bible says in 1 Timothy 5:1-2: “Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.” Nobody wants to kiss their sister.
  5. I get my wife’s input on all female hires with whom I’d have a close working relationship. She has a better radar than me. I also want her to feel comfortable with the women that I work with.
  6. I ask my board to ask me hard questions. Accountability only works though, if I’m honest. But I at least want to be asked about my behavior.
  7. I try to keep my mind pure. I don’t do porn, I take lust seriously, and I do my best to control my eyes. If my mind is a breeding ground for sinful garbage, it will eventually affect my behavior.
  8. I pray like crazy. Prayer is a real part of my life. It happens regularly and it happens in depth. Without it, I will not survive.

Nothing is full-proof. The danger is especially high for ministry workers. None of us are immune to a fall. We all walk on the edge. Keeping ourselves above reproach is crucial. It is how we can relate to God properly and shine a light to the world.

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