By Rebekah Montgomery
It was a mistake. I knew it then and I admit it now.
I was in Atlanta attending a conference where I didn't know hardly anyone. Lonely, I decided to telephone an old friend living there. He came down to my hotel, picked me up, and you can guess what happened next: He fed me barbecue. We talked over old times. Laughed a lot. Then he dropped me back at my hotel about 9:30. No romance. No attraction. Not even a peck on the cheek.
But it was wrong, not because I am a married woman - my husband knew and approved the dinner - but because I am Bible teacher. The Scriptures are clear: God Himself holds those who teach the Word to higher standard. By the way, so do the world and our students. (James 3:1) For this reason as well as others, I take the privilege of teaching the Word very seriously.
As women who minister, our mistakes can be more dangerous than physician malpractice. If a doctor blunders, the patient may die. If we goof up, someone could go to hell to die forever - and take her family with her. As Jesus commented, we would be better off dead than cause someone to sin. (Matthew 18:6)
So I have adopted a Code of Honor for my ministry and I want to share the condensed version with you. It is not meant to restrict as much as protect the Lord's reputation, my reputation, and those who are new believers or seekers from being offended. It is a dynamic document. As I learn, either by instruction or from a mistake, I amend it. But I share it with you now, and perhaps it will serve as a pattern for a Code of Honor for your ministry, too.
A Women's Ministry Code of Honor
When I quote Scripture in a teaching, I will look it up in context to be certain that I am not twisting it to make my point. I will try to memorize the passage so I quote it correctly.
I will make sure that any teaching showcases Jesus and His truth, not me or my pet subject.
When I speak, I will not tell anecdotes about my children or husband without their permission.
When I am a guest at a church, I will not publicly dispute doctrinal issues with which I disagree. I will conform to their social and religious customs provided they do not disagree with my basic faith tenets.
I will dress modestly in public at all times.
When I am teaching the Word, I will dress in such as way as to not call undue attention to myself or be distracting.
I will not be alone or meet privately with a member of the opposite sex who is not a close family member. If I do have a meeting, it will be in a public place or with someone else present.
I will not pray with or privately counsel a member of the opposite sex who is not a close relative.
I will not flirt in any way with a member of the opposite sex. (Except my hubby, and then watch the sparks!)
I absolutely will not discuss anything of a private sexual nature with a member of the opposite sex. I will not laugh at suggestive stories or jokes.
I will love and treat others as I wish to be treated, considering everyone as beloved by God regardless of their sexual orientation, social status, race, religion, criminal record, addiction, or lifestyle.
I am a servant, not a master. I wash feet, not stand on a pedestal.
I will not take money to pray for or with someone. Since I am not a trained counselor, I will not take money to counsel someone.
What someone tells me in confidence remains private unless he/she has committed a crime that by law I have to report.
I will not pretend to be perfect. But neither will I strip down to my emotional underwear for the purpose of attention.
I will be transparent and accountable. When I'm wrong or hurt, I'll admit it. If I make a public mistake, I'll admit it publicly.
I will be quick to apologize. I will seek restoration.
I will be scrupulously honest in any area that deals with money. I will take a loss rather than allow any suspicion of financial mishandling.
I will avoid personal habits (use of alcohol, smoking, gambling, etc.) that might cause others to sin.
I do not publicly discuss my own political views, but if someone asks privately, I will share my opinion.
Whether I am in public or private, I will be aware that I am a representative of Christ, and because He has entrusted me to teach His Word, my actions have greater repercussions.
© Rebekah Montgomery 2008