This is a guest post by my good friend Marv Penner. Marv is a global youth ministry leader, the author of several books, a professor, leader of Youth Specialties Canada, and prayer warrior. You can follow Marv on Twitter at @marvpenner.
I’ve been doing youth ministry so long that I’m over 40 years older than most of the students I work with, but every day I remind myself of my own vulnerability and recommit myself, by God’s grace, to walking as far from the line of moral compromise as I possibly can.
In yesterday’s post I outlined a number of warning signs that might indicate that we are compromising our boundaries in our relationships with students or co-workers. It’s important for us to know the symptoms, but it’s even more important to be proactively preventative in our commitment to personal holiness.
Here are some practical steps you can take to guard your heart:
1• Acknowledge your vulnerability. Don’t EVER say, “That could never happen to me.”
2• Maintain your fundamental spiritual disciplines: Bible study, prayer, active involvement in a faith community and perhaps most importantly; the lost discipline of Scripture memory.
3• Intentionally cultivate solid same-gender friendships. Your social circles should not be made up entirely of teenagers.
4• Invest consistently in your own marriage and family. If you are a man, choose to courageously lead your wife and children spiritually.
5• Develop strong accountability around pornography, online activity and media consumption. It can be a powerful disinhibitor. (Install X3Watch on your computers–it’s inexpensive and powerful accountability.)
6• Be especially vigilant during times of unusual ministry effectiveness and success. The feelings of entitlement that often come with the euphoria of those moments make us especially vulnerable.
7• Don’t be stupid! Avoid any and all situations that have even the appearance of compromise.
8• Recognize it as spiritual warfare and use the weapons of warfare given to us in Scripture to do battle
9• I hate to have to say this… but if you are aware of a personal vulnerability to inappropriate relationships with children or teenagers, please voluntarily step aside from ministry, confide your problem to someone you trust and get the help you need.
10• Count the cost… consciously, intentionally, write it down – who will be impacted by my failure … and regularly review the implications of slipping down the slope of sexual compromise in your ministry. There will be more on this tomorrow.
It’s all about intentionality! Boundaries can only be maintained when a commitment is made to taking every step necessary to guard one’s heart. When it gets right down to it the call is not simply to avoid sin, but to pursue righteousness and choose holiness.
Question: What specific steps would you challenge other readers to take to ensure that there is no sexual, emotional or inappropriate spiritual entanglement in their relationships with the people they are called to serve or serve with? Chime in here.