It seems every day we hear of another big name celebrity, politician, or pastor who has fallen into the temptation of lust and had an affair. I think it is dangerous for any leader to assume this could never happen to him or her. Speaking as a man (I can’t speak as a woman), I understand that temptation is very real. When the mind begins to wander in a lustful direction, it is very hard to control. The failure, I believe, comes more in not protecting the heart and mind. I know that I must personally work to protect myself, my wife, my boys, and my church from the scandal and embarrassment of an affair.
There are a few rules I have in place that serve to protect my heart:
I never meet alone with a woman besides my wife (or mother).
I always take someone along to lunch meetings, and I make sure others are in the office when I meet with women. Also, I never exercise with other women. (If you need explanation, then you’ve never been a guy going to a gym where girls are in workout clothes. Trust me!) I realize this is not popular in these days when men and women are searching for equality in the workplace. Honestly, some women never understand this. I had one woman tell me recently that I “think too highly of myself,” but my family is too important to me not to take this precaution.
I try not to conduct very personal or intimate conversations with women.
I am careful not to compliment a woman on her appearance, unless I feel she needs the encouragement and her husband or my wife is in the conversation. If a woman is in tears, I am careful about prolonging the conversation. When emotions are flowing, people get vulnerable. There are women on our staff and in our church equally or more capable than me to deal with these types of conversations.
When talking to couples, I focus my visual connection mostly on the man and not his wife.
It’s not that I don’t talk to the wife, but I try to place my eyes more in the direction of the man. This is a discipline I have had to practice. Sometimes I see couples from our church in the community, and I often don’t recognize the woman when she is not with her husband. This is not that I don’t care about the woman (or that I’d rather look at a man!), but this is necessary in order to protect my heart and mind from wandering. (Did you ever read 2 Samuel 11?)
I try not to stare at women.
When an attractive woman catches my eye, I try to quickly bounce my attention elsewhere. Yes, I notice a pretty woman in the room…often. God made some beautiful women. I just know my heart and mind too well to allow myself to stare. Trust me…I can’t.
I spend lots of time with my wife.
The best defense is a good offense. The most certain way to protect my heart is to strengthen my marriage. Cheryl and I spend most of our leisure time together.
I try to always remember my boys.
My boys are two of my very best friends, and thankfully, as of right now, they still have tremendous respect for me as a dad and a man. I would never want to disappoint them by being unfaithful to my wife.
I love my church.
I would never want to injure the work God is doing at Grace Community Church. If I were ever tempted to sin against God in this way, I would hope my love for the church would draw me back.