Clarification & Explanation: My Communication Policy with Women
Hello Rozetta Family,
I pray you are having a blessed week thus far! At this last Lord’s Day gathering (Sunday morning), I realized there might be some hurt feelings and confusion regarding my communication preferences/standards. So, this will be my attempt to clarify my policy and explain my intentions in having this policy in place more clearly.
The first thing to understand regarding my policy is that I have had this in place since well before I began pastoral ministry. Even when I was working in business as a multi-site business manager, I still enacted this policy. Knowing this history should help in understanding that this has been a constant expectation in my marriage and of me as a man of God for years.
This policy was initially enacted simply out of respect for my wife and our marriage. A certain amount of security and honor is given to marriage when a man seeks to go above and beyond to honor the sanctity of his marriage and the purity of his relationship with his wife. The idea is that this policy helps to ensure that there are no intentional or unintentional opportunities for growing an intimate or inappropriate relationship with someone of the opposite sex.
Since getting into ministry, another layer has been added in that I am called to be a man that is above reproach (1 Timothy 3:2-3; Titus 1:6-7). My most straightforward definition of this is that I should live a life where my worst enemy could take a screenshot of my phone, excerpt any of my communication, take a picture or video of any meeting or conversation, and not be able to twist anything to try to discredit me as a man of God. This is how I ensure that my life does not bring reproach upon the gospel that I preach every week. The second aspect of above reproach would be to live a life that would not cause a younger or less mature believer to stumble (2 Corinthians 6:3).
Here is a quote from an article I read recently that may help to clarify even further:
“As low-bar as “above reproach” may sound in some ears, with just a little reflection we can discover some of the wisdom in it. This banner qualification is not merely “innocent” or “righteous” or “acquitted,” but “above reproach.” We are looking for men above being reasonably charged with wrong in the first place. The term means, writes commentator George Knight, “not open to attack or criticism” (The Pastoral Epistles, 155); “he is not objectively chargeable” (156). He’s not one who makes a practice of dancing around the fine line of righteous reproach.
Whether a man is technically innocent (or not) is not the entirety of the issue for church leadership. He might be unnecessarily controversial in a way that betrays immaturity or lack of wisdom. We want a pastor to be not only forensically righteous but also “the kind of man whom no one suspects of wrongdoing or immorality” (Anyabwile, 57).”
So with both of these layers of understanding, please know that my policy is not an attack against women or saying I don’t care to shepherd the church's women in the same way I do the men. Please know that this policy is in place because I love my wife, this church, and my God too much to be flippant with even the appearance of my life and conduct. I wish to live so that if someone attempted to slander my name five years from now, most of you would scoff at the idea and say, “You must not be talking about my pastor.”
All of that being said, here is the clarification of my communication policy with women:
#1 If you want to text me something, you are always welcome to, and I encourage it. Simply add someone else to the text for another level of accountability. You can add one of your family members, one of the deacons, someone in the church you love or trust, my wife (Bree), etc.
#2 If you want to call or email me, feel free to do so whenever you want. There is no need to three-way call or CC anyone in the email. These forms of communication are less easily twisted, and I allow more flexibility in this realm.
#3 If you want to meet with me 1-on-1 for counseling or some other matter, there will need to be another individual present at all times.
#4 There is no need to act any particular way if it is a Sunday morning or other gathering. I would love to talk with you, shake your hand, and encourage you in any way I can.
As the teaching pastor of this church, I must warn you this: if you have allowed my communication to make you embittered, angry, or unforgiving in any way…you need to repent. You need to turn from your sin. You need to remind yourself of the gospel, and you need to ask God to forgive you. It is a sin for us to allow the communication or standards of others to drive us to be jaded, resentful, or indignant.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
If you have insisted on your own way, if you have become irritable, or if you have become resentful because of the communication policy I put in place, the Bible speaks clearly that you must repent and turn from this sin for your good and God’s glory! If you do not, this sin will multiply until it controls your life in many ways and drives you further down the path of death than you ever intended. Please turn. Flee temptation. Resist the devil. Choose the path of life!
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, I am always available as the under-shepherd God has placed over this flock.
May God bless your week as you seek His kingdom first!
Grace and Peace,