Friday, October 11, 2013

When a Single Pastor Flirts

Flirt -  A playful advance by one person to another subtly indicating a romantic or sexual interest.
So why do we flirt? Maybe that is our way of "testing the waters" to see if someone we are sincerely interested in is interested in us. In most cases the motives for flirting are not that pure. We flirt with no long term goals in mind. We want to be seen as attractive, desirable, funny, or countless other adjectives that somehow make us feel like a more valued person. Maybe we just like the challenge or can't stand the solitude. We see him or her.  They catch our attention because of their appearance or persona and we decide that it would be nice to receive that person's attention. So we flirt. Maybe they return our gaze multiple times on the subway. Or maybe we are attracted to her low cut blouse, or his masculine physique. We slip into this fantasy world. But think about it. That "look" attracts us now but if he or she ever became ours that same "look" would drive us crazy with jealousy. It is not what the spouse of a minister should ever wear.

Or maybe in your mind it is nothing that impure. Maybe you only flirt with Christian people. And maybe in your mind it is not flirting. You just like people and enjoy spending time with others.
You give them more attention than others, you touch them more when you greet them, or your treat them like a treasure even though to you they are merely precious for the moment. It could be that you are interested in something more or it could be that you are not but it builds your ego to know that they would be interested if you were. It's is an easy trap for singles in ministry to fall into.
Hopefully you do not have a flirting heart, but you still must be cautious. We work in a field that requires us to give love, patience, compassion, listening ears and an open heart. That's our job, but it also happens to be the way that intimacy is built.

Ministers are nice and kind in public – something many husbands are not – either in private or public. The result is that many wives think the clergyman is far better than their husbands. A romantic “crush” may result. Some women are attracted to the aura of power and status surrounding the minister; sometimes they are attracted to his sympathetic kindness. They feel safe around the leader, because surely ministers are godly and never have sexual feelings. [1]
Or suppose that admirer is single. It is a perfect storm waiting to happen. The trap is set and if the minister is not careful he gets drawn into an ill-advised conversation, encounter, or even relationship.
The opposite is just as dangerous. The trap could also be set for anyone of the opposite gender who encounters the minister who is desperately in need of some companionship, intimacy, or love. You may have seen this type of minister. He is too touchy with the females and is seen talking with them a lot more than he does the men. He can call it counseling or empathy, but if the pattern persists there is a good chance that flirting is actually what is taking place. It is likely that the minister’s loyalty has turned away from God and His people and is now following self.
If the single minister is not careful it will result in sins that Paul describes in 2 Tim 3:6. “For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women as a shepherd could quickly become the wolf in sheep’s clothing.
It is a legitimate danger and area of vulnerability. That is one reason scripture advises that the older women counsel the younger women and the older men counsel the younger men. It's just safer that way. It also guards our hearts, our minds, and our hormones.
Desires for love, intimacy, and companionship are beautiful blessings, but horrible idols. Search your heart. If Christ sits on the throne of your heart your desires for and relations with the opposite gender will begin to move in a more Christ-centered direction. Others will no longer be a means to an end. Christ will begin to meet your deepest longings so that you can give serve others and not need anything from them. You will begin to see them as Christian brothers and sisters who belong to our heavenly Father.
If flirting is an issue for you, ask God to remove any selfish agenda. Draw close to Him so that His light can remove your dark places. Ask close friends to critique how you relate with the opposite gender. Repent for any desires that have become more important than Christ. Right any wrongs. Set new parameters. Break old patterns. Experience the joy of being bless-able once again.
Check yourself. Examine your heart. Walk in a manner worthy of your calling. May the words of our mouth and the meditations of our heart be pleasing in His sight.

[1]Dr. Willis and Esmie Newman, “Bible Teaching About Pastoral Temptations.